High Praise for Dee Daniels
The former Seattle school teacher wows pop symphony audiences

All About Jazz / Seattle / April 2003
by Norm Bobrow

Here was this girl, Dee Daniels, as gifted of voice as, name them – Liontyne Price? Pavoarotti? Beverly Sills? Yet, Dee Daniels was altogether a people person that she might just as well have found sublime fulfillment even if she hadn’t "made it," with precious friendships everywhere, through her stepfather’s church, where she sang gospel in the choir and, before that, through her natural father’s blues singing and his 78 rpm record collection, and then through graduation from Montana University where she earned her degree that made her a high school teacher that would have added a permanent feature of changing semesters of students to teach and encourage every year.

And being a piano prodigy from the start? That would have been more than a full plate for you and me, right? But Dee Daniels couldn’t stop destiny from swooping down and taking her into the stratosphere of person achievement, and providing a loving mate and motherhood all at the same time.
Let’s run through a few details from the very beginning…

She’s that statuesque beauty with the four-octave range. She’s given command performances for royalty, appeared at international festivals and recently shattered chandeliers throughout Canada, Europe, Africa, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Scotland, Spain, Sicily, Australia, Egypt and the African countries (Morocco, South Africa, Senegal, Benin, the Ivory Coast, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon). And, of course, the United States.

She exudes a rare sincerity, taking more interest in you than in herself, a quality that wins her new friends wherever she travels.

At the age of nine, Daniels sang her first solo in her father’s church in Oakland, California. A talented pianist, she also accompanied the church’s three choirs. In college at the University of Montana (working on a degree in art education), she helped found and performed in that school’s Black Ensemble Gospel Choir. Moving to the Seattle area in the early 1970’s she took a job as a high school teacher.

Daniels made her first musical mark in the Northwest in 1972, when she joined Dynamite, an established local group. Throughout the 1970’s she was a regular on the Seattle jazz circuit, performing as a soloist and with small groups, though she briefly relocated to Los Angeles in the mid-1970’s.
In her performances in Seattle clubs Daniels established herself as an up-and-coming jazz singer. She became such a rage at her regular gig at Anthony’s in Bellevue, Washington, that she was given regular airtime on KING-TV, which provided Seattleites with an opportunity to see and hear her without having to make reservations weeks in advance.

In 1982 Daniels traveled to Europe for a three-month tour that turned into a five-year residency. A special favorite of Scandinavian audiences, Daniels performed for the king and queen of Belgium in 1986 and was twice teamed with jazz legends at the Netherlands’s Jazz Inn Party – Ernestine Anderson in 1986 and Sarah Vaughan in 1987. One major success was chronicled by esteemed Los Angeles Times critic Leonard Feather, who wrote: "Dee Daniels earned a standing ovation for her offering of soul-fried jazz, first vocally and then at the piano."

When not on major tours, Daniels is at home in Vancouver, B.C. with her husband Doug, a graphic designer, and their 14-year-old daughter Dalana, tall like her mother and a star volleyball player.

In this commercial world of the often-suspect rave notice, critical praise from symphony conductors and general managers is something else – highly regarded as meaningful, and professionally cherished by artists such as Dee Daniels, whose concert appearances with symphony orchestras around the planet have become a major part of her concert portfolio. Here are a few sincere responses:

"We thought Dee was fantastic. She has a striking presence and she really lit up the stage for us. Dee exudes style and has a wonderful, natural feel for popular song. And a great voice, too. Her sets with the orchestra went beautifully. Audiences loved her. As an added plus, she is a dream to work with. We look forward to having her back." Jeff Woodruff, General Manager, The Florida Orchestra.

"Dee Daniels’ appearance with the San Antonio Symphony, conducted by Jeff Tyzik, was a huge success on our Pops series, Dee combines a great voice with wonderful stage presence and imaginative arrangements, guaranteed to please audiences of all ages. Dee is true to the style of the great singers of the past but has her own distinctive sound and way of delivering a song. She is a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend her for symphony Pops concerts." Lawrence J. Fried, General Manager and Artistic Administrator, San Antonio Symphony.

"There are many great Pops performers with symphony orchestras but it would be difficult to find a better vocalist than Dee Daniels. In a performance this weekend Dee literally brought the house down! Her singing has style AND substance, subtlety and charm. She has technique, range and lots of power and emotion. She is calm, very professional and courteous in rehearsal and dynamic in concert. She’s a conductor’s dream and she wowed the orchestra as well. I can’t wait to work with her again!" Nicholas Palmer, Music Director/Conductor, Altoona & Owensboro Symphonies.

Thanks to the magnificence of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, Dee Daniels is appearing here March 1 and March 2. If you miss her then, Dee will return to Seattle to join Greta Matassa and Ben Black in a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the EMP on March 21.