Musical Brilliance Wrapped in Gentility
William S. Gooch
In a time of economic hardship, global instability,
and encroaching climate change, it is comforting
to know that there are artists who still use their
talent to promote peace, love, and tolerance. Danny
Nova is one such artist. Whether composing lyrics
that cause us to reflect and listen to that still,
small voice of reason and tranquility or blowing
us away with vocal fireworks, we can rest assured
that this gentle spirit will always express what
is authentic and creatively relevant.
William Gooch: Danny, where
were you born and what was your childhood like?
Danny Nova: I was
born in northern New Jersey and my mom was a singer.
Before I was born she sang with a band called the
Four Lovers that later become Frankie Valli and
the Four Seasons. Later, she performed mostly jazz
on the metropolitan New York circuit. I did travel
with my mom on her engagements a lot during summer
vacations. For a good portion of my childhood we
lived in South Orange, New Jersey, which at that
time was a rough town. I think had it not been for
my mother’s musical influence and discipline,
I would have turned out to be a delinquent.
William Gooch: What is your
Danny Nova: I started
playing guitar around the age of six because my
home was always full of jazz guitar players. My
mom also sang in church choirs, so around the age
of nine I started church choral training. Our choirmaster
was a Juilliard graduate and helped me develop my
upper register. As I got older my high octave range
stayed in place and my lower register began to develop.
From singing in boys choirs I also learned to be
confident singing in front of audiences.
William Gooch: What contemporary
artists influenced you?
Danny Nova: As a
child I was influenced by the jazz artists my mom
played on the stereo. But, I was also influenced
by Frank Sinatra, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Marvin
Gaye, Motown, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith,
and Pearl Jam, to name a few. I basically listen
to everything. Now, if a band has great percussions,
I really stop and listen.
William Gooch: I know that
you admire Steve Perry from Journey. Like Steve
Perry, you can hit some crazy high notes, what is
your octave range?
Danny Nova: I have
a four plus octave, which is a D above high C. I
can sing the full range of notes played on a guitar.
William Gooch: Do you choose
material that shows off your vocal range?
Danny Nova: I usually
do concerts with a repertoire of about 28 songs.
In my shows I cover a Journey song and a Nirvana
song where I demonstrate my vocal acuity, but most
of the songs in my show are written by me and come
from my heart. I write music because I have something
important to express. During the creative process
I am not thinking about whether the music is going
to be a hit song or make me a lot of money; I am
letting the music flow organically from me based
on emotions that I am experiencing. I think that
is why audiences can really relate to the lyrics
in my music. I am singing about what they may be
experiencing in their own lives.
William Gooch: In a song
like “Stop the World” you sing about
how love can be this transformative, all encompassing
emotion. Where did you get the inspiration to write
lyrics with such deep emotions around love?
Danny Nova: I love
poetry and I love to bare my soul when I write.
I love communicating my emotions through music.
It’s kind of like writing a letter except
that music has a different structure. I try to use
everything that I am thinking and feeling and cohesively
articulate those things through my music.
William Gooch: Your songs
have a very progressive perspective on women.
Without objectifying or hyper-sexualizing women,
your lyrics detail why women are worthy of adoration.
Where does your adoration of women come from?
Danny Nova: I grew
up in a household of women and I saw the difficulties
my mother had as a single parent and as a jazz singer.
If you grow up in a household of women, you grow
to understand and respect women. And my lyrics reflect
my appreciation and adoration of women. Because
I didn’t live in a household where there was
spousal abuse, I can’t fathom why a man would
ever want to strike a woman.
William Gooch: In the Song
“She Tried to Save Me,” you talk about
a woman saving a man. I have heard women sing about
saving their man, but rarely does a man sing about
being saved by a woman. Why did you write this song
from that perspective?
Danny Nova: I believe
that all human beings have masculine and feminine
qualities. Unlike a lot of men who try to hide that
softer side, I never felt the need to mask that
aspect of myself. I have always felt free to express
the whole range of my emotions. When I wrote the
song “She Tried to Save Me,” I was coming
out of a horrendous relationship where I was betrayed.
My heart hardened and I was closed off to the world
and every thing in it, and then this wonderful woman
came along and opened me up to experience the world
and love again. Not only did she try to save me,
she did save me.
William Gooch: You orchestrate
flutes and harmonicas into a lot of your music.
Why this orchestration?
Danny Nova: I learned
to play the flute and harmonica about 8 years ago.
When I didn’t have a band and did solo gigs,
I would fill in the breaks in the music with my
harmonica and/or flute playing. Because I was playing
harmonica and flute in these solo gigs, when I went
into the studio to cut my next CD I decided to replace
lead guitar licks with harmonica and/or flute.
William Gooch: Is there
an antiwar overture in “Lay Your Guns Down”?
Danny Nova: The song is more of a personal statement
about being peaceful and laying down internal defenses.
I don’t think any of us want to see our family
and friends killed in a war; however, this song
is more about looking inward and dealing with those
issues that separate us from each other.
William Gooch: Tell me about
the “Bridges of Peace Benefit” that
you did on November 23?
Danny Nova: The “Bridges of Peace Benefit”
was a benefit for kids who are victims of physical
and emotional abuse. We raise money through a concert
and donate that money to children’s services
in hospitals in New Jersey. After the kids are better
we get them front row seats at one of our concerts.
William Gooch: How did the
CBS project Musical Poets in Motion come
Danny Nova: I was
2006 recipient of the Talent in Motion Award. Time
Warner NY covered the award ceremony and some producers
at the event proposed a reality show based on my
everyday life as a musician. It ran on different
networks for a whole season as a one-hour reality
show. There is even one episode with me in a concert
William Gooch: What was
your recent Carnegie Hall experience on November
Danny Nova: It was
an amazing experience because I felt I was feeding
off of the energy of all the great musicians who
had performed there. I could feel this amazing energy
in the building when I went to try out the hall
earlier in the year. And of course, everyone knows
that Carnegie Hall has acoustics like no other performing
William Gooch: What do
you hope people get from your music?
Danny Nova: I hope
people can relate to the authentic emotion in my
music and I hope my music brings people together.
I get great joy out of seeing people in one space
smiling, clapping, and singing together.
William Gooch: What is next
for Danny Nova?
Danny Nova: I am
in talks with various distributors about distributing
my CDs and some top booking agents have expressed
some genuine interest in signing me. I also have
two major concerts coming up, one in North Jersey
and the other in Atlantic City.
William Gooch: Thank you
so much, Danny. This was a great experience; I learned
Danny Nova: Thank
you, and maybe I will see you at one of my concerts.
Danny Nova is a 2006 recipient of the Timmy Award
and star of the reality television show Musical
Poets in Motion. Danny Nova is the only artist
without a major record contract who has performed
at Carnegie Hall.
For information on Danny Nova, go to: http://www.myspace.com/dannynovamusic.