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New York Cool - Music

Danny Nova: Musical Brilliance Wrapped in Gentility

Written by 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 musical training?

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 about?

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 in London.

William Gooch: What was your recent Carnegie Hall experience on November 15th like?

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 arts space.

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 so much.

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.



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