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  • Jonathan Widran

ANNA DANES, Find Your Wings

Discovering a new life, fresh purpose and her true inner voice after years of keeping up appearances in an unfulfilled existence she called a “gilded cage,” Anna Danes is truly flying high. The emerging jazz vocalist and songwriter captures the inspirational philosophy that continues to propel her forward in the opening lines from “Find Your Wings,” the gorgeous piano-vocal ballad that is the title track and centerpiece to her new full length album. Speaking both to her soul and to millions of women who seek the courage to liberate themselves and follow their deeper creative passions, she sings, “When you feel that you don’t fit/You’re not understood one bit/Find Your Wings/You can rise above the fray/Sing what you can’t seem to say/Find Your Wings.”

The Polish born, San Diego based multi-faceted artist and performer’s advocacy for passion-pursuing and dream chasing has caught on quickly. Upon its release, Find Your Wings debuted at #1 on the iTunes jazz chart. Soon thereafter, it placed on two Billboard charts, reaching #13 on the Traditional Jazz chart and in the Top 25 on the Jazz Albums chart. The collection, a follow-up to her well received 2013 debut Longing, was produced by Dave Darling (Brian Setzer, Tom Waits, Jack Johnson, Motley Crue) and recorded with top L.A. session musicians in Capitol Studios A, where greats like Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole once held court.

A true Renaissance woman who has used music as a springboard to become a motivational speaker, budding author, noted philanthropist and live show producer in the San Diego area, Anna recently created a vision board for the way she wants her career to unfold. It includes images of her flying out of LAX to a multitude of destinations, stages with microphones and large audiences, the Hollywood Bowl, NYC skyscrapers, Grammy Awards, even the cover of Time Magazine. Bold? Yes! Yet none of these hopes and dreams seemed remotely possible just a few years ago, when her marriage was breaking down and the onetime stay at home mom was trying to literally find her wings and start over at the age of 43. Recording her second album in the place where the legends worked their timeless magic was the ultimate confirmation that she had succeeded in re-inventing herself while sharing those long latent musical gifts with the world.

The six standards on Find Your Wings are all “dear friends” already in her repertoire – “I Will Wait For You,” “It’s Crazy,” “I Want to Be Around/Cry Me A River,” “That’s All” and “In The Wee Small Hours.” The six originals are powerful snapshots of her life from around the time she wrote them. “The Voice,” a co-write with Alexander, is about life at the end of her marriage, while “Mr. OMG,” co-penned with Harris, reflects on life after separation. The others – “Long Distance” (co-written with Darling), “See You in L.A.” (with Alexander) and “I Love You,” a hypnotic a capella piece written by Anna that closes the set – are life with a new love and falling in love for the first time.

Although the title track “Find Your Wings” is universal in its emotional impact, Anna says she initially had herself and her daughter in mind when she wrote it. Ironically, the singer initially discovered her latent vocal gifts via vocal lessons she had won in an auction and originally gave to her daughter, who had expressed a strong interest in music. When her daughter wanted to quit after a few lessons, Anna stepped in and took one herself. The teacher, upon hearing her voice, said, ‘Wow, where did you come from?’ One of the teachers, veteran pianist, arranger and composer Larry White, became Anna’s mentor, helping her stay in tune, develop a unique style, find suitable songs and reach her potential. As composer, performer and producer, White guided the creative process of recording Longing.

“When I first discovered my gift,” Anna says, “it was such a great feeling being able to sing, and I felt free and liberated for the first time in my life. I believe everything happens at the right time, and lived through so many geographic and emotional upheavals, I can bring truck-fuls of experience into every lyric I share. It’s a lot to have dealt with – three immigrations, losing my entire family, going through divorce, and illness - but from all that I’m able to bring a genuineness and honesty that comes with time and wisdom and not be afraid to show any of it. There’s a dignity that comes from being yourself and letting people know that it’s okay to be vulnerable – because we’re all in this together.”

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