Dani Stevenson Biography
On her Universal Records debut Is There Another?! Dani proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that her place in the spotlight is well earned. And listeners will agree once they get a dose of her funkdafied, jazzed-up R&B style. Her voice and music pay homage to her eclectic cast of influences and the styles they purveyed. Clearly, the fingerprints of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Donnie Hathaway, Whitney Houston, and Roberta Flack are all over this prodigious debut. But, this is not a record simply for old-schoolers. Dani definitely gives it up for her peers as she boldly goes where few artists have dared to go: sprinkling bits of jazz-inspired vocals over modern-day hip hop beats.
"Yo Yo Yo" is the listener's first clue that Is There Another?! is not just another album and Dani Stevenson is not just another singer. "Yo Yo Yo," which was also featured on the soundtrack album Music From and Inspired by XXX, brims with originality from Dani's ear-catching vocals to its down home jazz clarinet chiming in throughout the track. The slow-paced "Indecent Proposal (What Would You Do?)" finds Dani crooning sweetly and sexily about a discreet romantic tryst while the mid-tempo "Fed Up" kicks a trifling lover to the curb. "Still In Love" is one of those smoke-filled-room-my-lover-done-me-wrong torch songs that few young singers can convey as convincingly as Dani does on this track. And as a real testament to her musical depth, the 22-year-old singer dares to include a cover of the classic "Fever" performed by Peggy Lee.
Long before she sang the hook on Nelly's "Hot In Herre" (I am gettin' so hot, I wanna take my clothes off), Dani Stevenson was a star in waiting and her style was well defined.
A native of Atlanta who moved to Harlem, New York at the age of 12, Dani's childhood showed hints of the single mindedness that would one day bring her success. "I always knew I wanted to sing," she says. "When I was a kid I would sing whatever my mother was listening to, like Whitney Houston or Anita Baker." Dani would stage one-woman shows - hairbrush in hand - live from her kitchen or lend accompaniment to her favorite singers from the backseat of her mother’s car. "I know my family was about to be sick of me," she laughs.
But it wasn't long before Dani moved her show to a larger arena, performing her own rendition of the national anthem at her junior high graduation. "That's when I knew for sure: Yes, I am a singer."
Dani wasn't the only one who had an epiphany. Shortly after that performance, her mother began signing her up for talent shows and even though she didn't always win ("I had the wrong dress!" she insists) Dani never doubted that music was her calling. "I never even thought about doing anything else," she says. "My ultimate goal back then was to get signed."
In August of 2001, Dani met her producer, Rhemario Webber, through a mutual friend. Between them was an instant chemistry that would result in an album that perfectly showcases Dani's blend of sassy southern charm and east coast vigor; an album that is one of the most daring and innovative by any female vocalist of her era. Dani and Rhemario recorded a 10-song demo, which quickly resulted in her being signed to Universal Records. More remarkable than the speed with which she was signed, however, is the fact that out of the ten songs on her demo, eight of them made it onto the album. "We just added more music and some background to fill out the sound," she says with a modest shrug. "And that was it."
i>Is There Another?! is a "soulful mix of R&B," says Dani, who wrote 11 of the album's 13 tracks. She did yield, however, to super producer/artist Missy Elliot, who penned the first single, "Honk Your Horn." In true Missy fashion, the song is sassy and edgy. Enhanced by Dani's seductive vocals, it's a bonafide hit waiting to happen. Dani says she was inspired to write other tracks, like "Bogus" and "Yo Yo Yo" after listening to some of her girlfriends talk about the men in their lives. The songs, she says, are meant to be empowering. "It's a new day for women. We are saying we're fed up and we are not taking the B.S. anymore."
But i>Is There Another?! is not without its tender moments. On "Still In Love," Dani displays the vulnerability of a woman who can't let go and "Is There Another" explores the insecurity of a lover who questions her mate's fidelity.
"Hot Like Fire" features label mate Mr. Cheeks while "Jungle Up In Here" is a sweat-dripping party anthem that rides comfortably on African beats.
On i>Is There Another?!Dani explores and displays her many musical sides and seamlessly ties them together into an enjoyable, inspired and utterly creative masterpiece. "All I want is that when people listen to my album, they get a sense of me as a person. There are a lot of different sides to me and that's why there is something on my album that everyone can relate to. Whether it's my lyrics or my sound, everyone can relate to it." And everyone will know that, in today's R&B circles, there's not another album like i>Is There Another?! and not another singer like Dani Stevenson.