Jermyn native Dani-elle Kleha has been making a name for herself as a country music singer both locally and in Nashville, TN. The 21-year-old was recently honored at the 2017 Josie Music Awards as Female Artist of the Year and was invited to perform in front of an audience of several thousand music enthusiasts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team.
Josie Music Awards are artist-judged awards, which means that winning indicates that a performer has impressed not just country music fans, but also his or her professional peers in the industry. “Josie Awards are the largest independent artist awards. This is the second year that I was chosen as Female Artist of the Year. Just being nominated was an honor; I felt like I won already. Actually receiving the award was the sprinkles on the ice cream!” recounted Dani-elle.
Dani-elle was scheduled to perform her latest single, “Joke’s on You” at the stadium during the awards show. The announcement that she had won came just as she was about to go onstage, much to the delight of both Dani-elle and the audience.
A seasoned performer, Dani-elle takes to the stage with flair and ease. She began performing publicly at a very young age, and is accustomed to projecting a confident and focused demeanor onstage. “The first time I performed was in a little country church in Tompkinsville. I was three years old and no one would volunteer but me. I sang ‘Angels Among Us’ by Alabama. It was an awesome experience, and ever since then, it’s all I’ve wanted to do,” explained Dani-elle.
With the blessing and support of her parents, Basil and Debbie, Dani-elle learned how to play the piano, the guitar, and most recently, the ukulele. She also participated in the Acting Co., received classic training in music theory at Marywood University, and studied with vocal coaches to perfect her skills and to allow her natural talent to shine. She made her first trip to Nashville at age 12, and now considers it a second home.
With one album, “Eleven,” already released, Dani-elle is hard at work recording a Christmas album to be released later this year. For her debut album, Dani-elle wrote (or co-wrote with Amanda Williams) all of the songs. “I like to be as real as possible in everything I do, whether it’s social media, writing music, or performing,” said Dani-elle, who draws inspiration from her own life and from the lives of her family and friends when writing song lyrics. For example, both the song “Pennies from Heaven” and the title of her CD “Eleven” were inspired by the death of her grandfather.
When speaking to Dani-elle, one is impressed not only by her intelligence and sincerity, but by how genuinely nice she is. She maintains a positive and can-do attitude, and is profoundly grateful for the support she receives from her parents and others. She is sensitive to the feelings of other people, particularly to the plight of those who have experienced bullying in person or online.
“I believe in positive thinking and in being yourself, in showing the world who you are. There’s so much negativity, especially when you’re in the public eye, and you have to just roll with it,” she remarked. Dani-elle, who was the target of bullying in high school and withdrew to finish her schooling through a cyber school, has channeled her personal experiences into something that she hopes will help teens in similar situations.
“My band and I take out Positive Youth Tour to area high schools. I talk about anti-bullying, because I was bullied and still am online at times. I want kids to learn that you can’t let people get to you. With the right people on your side, you can do anything,” explained Dani-elle.
She continued, “This is one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do so far. I’ve been doing it locally and hope to expand the program. I want to be a good role model, and want parents to say it’s cool to let their kids listen to my music and watch my videos.”
Despite some of the problems that can arise from the anonymity of social media platforms, Dani-elle recognizes that they are a part of life that won’t be going away any time soon, so she uses them as a way to connect to her fans and spread her positive message. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If I could go back and tell my younger self about the things to come, I would say ‘You’ll get through it. When one door closes on a person or opportunity, it’s going to be even bigger and better when the next one opens!’”
For more information about Dani-elle, including news about upcoming performances and music releases, follow her on Facebook or Instagram @danisings, on Twitter @danisingz, or visit her website at www.dani-ellesings.com .