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In The Country with Dave Woods: One On One With Dani Strong

Tell me about one of your influences and how that artist has shaped you.

Currently, Kacey Musgraves is a massive inspiration to me as a SONGWRITER. Kacey doesn’t seem to give a rip about what she does and does not “sell”. I really admire anyone who does what they want, because it is the art they want to create. In the “beginning”, when I was a kid, I always listened to older music. My mom must have thought I was on drugs. All my friends were listening to Our Lady Peace and The Offspring (we really only had one radio station in rural British Columbia), and I went and bought Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty and wore the S*$% out of that album and the self-titled album by Sheryl Crow. Those two records were ALL I listened to for a long time. I know that my vocal inflections certainly mimic Sheryl Crow… and that’s justified.

What can people expect when they go to a Dani Strong show?

They can expect a show… that’s why we’re there! I’m blessed to have the band I have. I’ve been playing with the same core band for over a decade. We don’t ever use tracks on stage. What you see is what you get. If we want to thicken the sound, I take a hit financially and add members. IT’s SO FUN. We go right up to a 9 piece band and have a heck of a great time together on stage. I make sure that every member of my band is a better musician than me. It forces me to always try and be better. I want to impress my band as much as I want to impress the audience. I don’t hire band members if they don’t gel with our core band. It’s so important to me that we all get along and nobody gets offended at our ridiculousness backstage. I feel like you can expect a bit of humour as well. I never script my jokes, so sometimes they fall flat… which in turn, makes the band laugh (at me), so it’s always funny regardless.

Who is your ultimate duet partner and why?

Dean Brody. Dean is like a country hero to me. I admire Dean so much for writing his own records and writing songs with thoughtful lyrics. He’s a very clever and insightful writer. I really look up to him. In fact, on my first album “Time to Breathe”, the last track I wrote was for a male vocal. My dream was for Dean to be the singer on that – ha ha. Instead, I forced my producer Dan Brodbeck to sing it, because I just love his voice so much and I wanted it to be heard.

What is one songwriting tip you can pass along to our readers?

Songwriting is ART. There is no RIGHT OR WRONG. Yes, there are tips and “tricks of the trade”, but those are just guidelines; or even less, they are just opinions. I think sometimes, especially in country music, young writers can get a little too lost in the “rules” of songwriting like “you must start and end the chorus with the title of the song”, “never rhyme a word with the same word”, …etc. OK yes, there are things that will be more attractive to radio, but it’s NEVER a sure bet. ART is personal to you. If you write something that you are passionate about, it will show, and I will bet you dollars to donuts that you will be much happier with your product if you just do what YOU want. That is your art. I am really focusing on that, as I am on recording my second record over the next month 🙂

Do you feel music can be a form of therapy for listeners?

I know that it is. It is for me, personally. Music can completely alter my mood depending on my playlist. I often just start crying for no reason when I hear songs that move me. Actually, at almost every songwriters round that I attend, I end up in tears. There is something about hearing someone’s story, and then the song that it breathed life into – that crushes me every time. I have also received multiple emails and messages from people telling me how my music (usually “Stronger Now”, “What You Need” or “Here I Am Again”) has helped them through difficult times. And that is the HIGHEST compliment I could ever receive. Music can often seem like a selfish hobby, and it helps to know that your music is having a positive impact on others’ lives. It makes the difficult journey worth it.

What is the most personal song you’ve written so far and why is it special to you?

So far (that has been released), “What You Need” is the most personal. It speaks for itself when you hear the words. It’s our song (my husband/drummer and I). The new record has a few personal tunes on it that are a bit heavier in emotion. I can’t wait to release it.

How important is the CMAOntario in helping artists – especially new ones – find their way in the music business?

CMAOntario is really such a gift to artists; new artists especially. The best thing, in my opinion, about country music, is that we are one big family. Everyone is rooting for each other and helping each other along. CMAOntario was my first major introduction to the industry after my debut album came out. I really enjoyed going to the seminars and listening to the panels. I took so many notes that first year, I actually had to buy a second notebook. Since then, I have played the New Faces Showcase and even received two nominations for my debut album. I’m VERY grateful for CMAOntario. Thank you!

Do you include cover songs in your shows, and if so, which one stands out as a favourite?

We actually do not play covers in most of our shows (I know that’s crazy), but I think because I spent so many years playing in bars, that I was absolutely THRILLED to be getting hired for shows and festivals to play MY SONGS! That being said, I did have the honour of playing the Main Stage at Boots and Hearts last summer with Brett Eldredge and Luke Bryan on the Sunday. I knew I had to do SOMETHING memorable. There were a ton of great artists that day and I wanted to be remembered. SO, the band and I played a song we had never performed together as a band: Thunderstruck by AC/DC! (LOL) I know it could have been a disaster, but it ended up being probably one of my favourite moments on stage ever.

If you could star in your own weekly one hour show, what would it be? A comedy, drama, action, etc., and why? And bonus points for giving it a name!

Comedy for sure. I think Grant (my husband) and I are almost a sitcom already, on a daily basis. Our life is ridiculous. I think we would call it “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”

To the delight of your fans, you have some new music on the way. What can you tell us about the project?

I’m SO excited for this new record. I took some chances. I put some real life into it. Some darkness, but also some super joyful tracks. But, life has been SUCH a crazy roller coaster of emotions this past year and I think this will properly reflect that – in a good way 🙂


Dave Woods is a monthly columnist for the CMAOntario and has been hosting the popular online radio show “In The Country with Dave Woods” since 2009. To hear episodes, please visit www.inthecountryinterviews.comwww.soundcloud.com/dave-woods-3 and iTunes.


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