The Ann Arbor chanteuse playing next week’s Sounds of the Zoo fest debuted a song for Local Spins on WYCE, which also aired new music by Last Gasp Collective, Martyr for Madison, Conklin Ceili Band & more.
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For a fast-rising singer, songwriter and musician, the news was alarming and downright frightening.
Diagnosed with a rare form of multiple sclerosis that struck suddenly during a 2021 performance, Dani Darling found herself “unable to speak or phonate or sing.”
“I almost felt like I was having a stroke. My speech was very slurred,” the soulful Ann Arbor chanteuse recalls, noting that medical personnel initially couldn’t predict how long she might be left unable to sing or speak.
“That was definitely a fear of mine. It took a couple of months to get back into the groove of singing again. But we just did a whole summer of shows, so I’m back at it.”
Indeed, she is. Darling, who spent time in Grand Rapids in the early 2000s, this week released a poignant new single with plans for recording and releasing another collection of songs early next year – following up on previous EPs such as 2020’s “Mage” and 2021’s “The Future.”
She debuted her dreamy new single, “Trying,” for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – a track she says is “about resiliency and how much connection makes all the difference” – along with showcasing the title track from “The Future.” Watch the music video for “Trying” here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show.
VIDEO: Dani Darling, “Trying”
The Ann Arbor native who was named by Detroit’s Metro Times as an “artist to watch” in 2020 conceded that her music has evolved over the years, starting as an emo lo-fi affair before shifting toward psychedelic soul, funk and retro-soul.
“It’s kind of fun to play with different genres,” she insists, “and I’ll probably go in a totally different direction next, too.”
PROMISING A HIGH-ENERGY PERFORMANCE AT KALAMAZOO’S SOUNDS OF THE ZOO
She notes that growing up in Southeast Michigan with a mother who’s a minister exposed her to everything from Motown to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole to Backstreet Boys to Radiohead to Mariah Carey, Roberta Flack and Erykah Badu.
“It’s hard to stay in one place being from here and having so much music at your disposal,” she says.
Her passion for melded stylings sparks high-energy performances with her band on stage, something she’s excited about displaying for a Kalamazoo audience later this month. Dani Darling and her band will play the inaugural, week-long Sounds of the Zoo festival, pumping up the Bronson Park stage at 4 p.m. Oct. 1.
Darling (on vocals and rhythm guitar) will join more than two dozen other acclaimed Michigan bands and solo artists playing several different Kalamazoo venues starting Monday (Sept. 26).
“We are so excited,” Darling says of playing Sounds of the Zoo, along with acts such as Laura Rain & The Caesars, Cabildo, Blvcksheep, Grace Theisen and Earth Radio.
“I am so grateful to (festival organizer) Jennifer Hudson-Prenkert for the opportunity to be a part of such a monumental festival. Michigan is so rich in culture and the various music scenes are exciting. Kalamazoo has been so welcoming and the set will be a fun, psychedelic soul journey to ‘The Future.’”
As for the rest of 2022 and beyond, Darling says fans can expect to hear new music that’s “very soulful, more introspective, more ambient but with a cool Dani Darling vibe” intact.
“Having a chronic illness has really changed how I approach music. I’ve turned a little bit more inward and more reverent and more just kind of exploring life from a new perspective,” she says.
“My new music will be colored by my experience with chronic illness and how music has been an anchor and a means of healing.”
Read more about Dani Darling here and view a Local Spins preview of Kalamazoo’s free Sounds of the Zoo, along with a full schedule.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – airing at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured new music from Last Gasp Collective, Michigander, Martyr for Madison, Conklin Ceili Band, Seven Purple Tigers, FlyLiteGemini, Keith Hall, Laura Rain & The Caesars and Overdrive Orchestra, as well as a track from The Hacky Turtles (this week’s musician’s pick by Darling). Listen to the radio show podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (9/23/22)
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