Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rising Star: Dani McCulloch

Many of you may remember my previous interview with the talented Dani McCulloch. At the time, I remembered her for a good audition that earned her a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Oh, how much I had to learn about this young singer...

We found out during the course of the day what a quality lady she is. Priscilla and Dani became great friends as the day progressed, along with Heather Cox, and between the three of them, there was a lot of great camaraderie. Dani was gracious to everyone, and she attracted a lot of fans, posing for photos, signing autographs, and just carrying on genuine conversations with everyone.

Dani wasn't originally scheduled to perform at the convention event Saturday night at the Nashville Palace. However, Lindsey Cardinale and Heather Piccinini weren't able to perform, so I was stuck needing a replacement. I asked her if she wouldn't mind performing, and she initially wasn't sure, but she quickly said that she would. Somehow, within the course of the day, she managed to come up with a couple of music tracks and practiced the songs well enough to be able to go onstage.

She got up and sang an original, which was nice, but then she launched into "Oh! Darling" by the Beatles, and the audience was mesmerized. I was emceeing the concert and running the sound, and even I sort of forgot what I was doing and just stood there listening to her. A whole room-full of reality TV stars were suddenly silent. Even Jonny Fairplay stopped goofing around long enough to pay attention to Dani's commanding performance.

Still, I'd only seen the tip of the iceberg for this young performer.

Last night, Dani headlined at Collierville's Independence Day Celebration, which is a huge event. Collierville is a suburb of Memphis, for those of you who aren't from around these parts. Dani drew a crowd of somewhere between 12,000 to 15,000. It was an outdoor concert, and the field behind us looked like the fourth coming of Woodstock. I mean, it's not exactly Bonnaroo, but for a girl who only made it through two Hollywood rounds of American Idol, it's a huge crowd.

Dani did not disappoint, either. There's a reason why this girl is constantly booked to perform at festivals with acts like Grand Funk Railroad, The Spin Doctors, Mark Chesnutt, Otis Day and the Nights and Paul Thorn. Priscilla and I finally got to see what the girl could do with a full stage and a live band, and that is to rock completely out. She was completely fearless up there, belting out some fabulous originals that she has written, as well as covering songs by the Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Melissa Etheridge, ZZ Top, and a sweet cover of Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine." She closed the concert with her own version of "The Star Spangled Banner."

It's obvious that Idol fans missed out on this girl this year. She owns the stage when she's on it, and she's the consummate performer. And she does it all with very little pretense. It's obvious when you watch her that nothing she does is pre-scripted, and you just know that even if she weren't being compensated for her performance that she'd still be up there doing it just for the love of the show.

We caught up to her after and said hello again. She had a rough schedule with the convention, band practice on Sunday, a television appearance on Monday morning, and spending the rest of her "free" time in the recording studio, working diligently on her second album. We'd never have suspected, though, that she was that exhausted, because she never let it show, and she never once considered giving less of a show.

If you haven't already, then you should check her out at or Then you'll see what I'm talkin' about


Post a Comment

<< Home