In the Middle of a Painful Divorce, the Billboard Charting Jazz Artist Re-Invented Herself at 45 to Become An Inspirational Renaissance Woman of Our Time
Twelve years after Justin Timberlake made it a thing, recording artist Anna Danes is truly bringing sexy back to jazz. Continuing the ongoing celebration of her critically acclaimed album Find Your Wings – which debuted at #1 on the iTunes jazz chart and hit the Billboard Traditional Jazz and Jazz Albums chart simultaneously – she artfully and exquisitely blends her love for music and the passionate pursuit of her creative dreams with a soulful yet provocative look and style that harkens back to the classic Hollywood mystique.
Her latest photo shoot, created not far from the watchful eye of the iconic Hollywood sign, brings us back to an era where curves were in, glamour was everything and legends like Marilyn Monroe held court being provocative to the eyes while leaving more than little something to our collective sexual imagination. The portfolio, a mix of vibrant color and stark black and white images, finds Anna looking gorgeous but unadorned and make-up free, rejoicing poolside in the sun and rain, sharing the magic of shiny red and sultry black and silver, then relaxing later in a warm robe. Even in the silence of still photographs, she invites us to love, to dream, to aspire the way she does when she’s in the studio recording and commanding stages everywhere from L.A. to New York.
Since its emergence in the 20’s, jazz’s unique approach of harmonic and rhythmic tension followed by release has made it one of America’s sexiest art forms. Much like Astrud Gilberto did with Stan Getz in the bossa nova craze of the 60’s, Anna wants to make sure we never forget that foundation. “Why am I here, trying to make jazz sexy again?” she says. “Because it’s time again for elegance and playfulness, blended with intimacy and mystery. Sex in music today is often too straightforward, but true sexiness comes from those gentle tensions that tickle the ear and eye. Jazz is sexy because it it’s not just visceral but also intellectual, subtle and elegant that moves from our brains to other parts of the body. These photos, like my album Find Your Wings, are me telling the world, ‘It’s a time to dream, a time to elevate and inspire…and a time now to work on your dreams. If not now, then when?’”
Anna’s advocacy of empowerment and pursuing dreams no matter one’s age is grounded in her own Phoenix-like rise in her mid-40s from betrayal and the darkness of a bitter divorce to completely re-inventing herself – as a person of value, renowned singer and recording artist, motivational speaker who is planning her first TED talk, author, noted philanthropist and live show producer in her adopted hometown of San Diego, where she puts on private and public events as well as the successful Jazz on Cedros concert series since 2014. Find Your Wings, her second independent release, was all about Anna 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.”
This was a far cry from the woman she was earlier in her life, when her ambitions led her to pursue a law degree and a successful career in law. She discovered her gift of music on a fluke at a time in her life when she longed to break free. She won vocal lessons in an auction and gave them to her daughter. When her daughter quit, Anna stepped in and took a lesson herself. The teacher, upon hearing her voice, said, “Wow, where did you come from?” – and the new Anna was born.
In the opening lines to the title track, the true centerpiece of the album, she captured the inspirational philosophy that continues to propel her forward. 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.” “As with my music, I am hoping these photos inspire people to look behind the surface of their lives and explore their own passions and the rich stories that are worth sharing,” Anna says. “I’ve honestly never felt or looked better and I realize how much more is possible – even reversing the clock in some ways. I want more women to be aware of the potential that is within. I re-invented myself at 45, and still feeling fabulous now in my late 40’s, and am ready to take on the world!”
Emboldened by her own recent diagnosis, the chanteuse aims to empower and educate others with “Find Your Wings,” set to take flight during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
SAN DIEGO (24 August 2016): It was against all odds that Anna Danes found herself standing in Capitol Records Studio A, in front of the same microphone used by her role models,Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, recording an a cappella song that she wrote for her sophomore album. In the dimly lit studio in the heart of Hollywood, the woman who escaped communist Poland as a child and overcame the pain and loneliness of a loveless marriage by discovering her voice just three years ago poured her broken heart into the intimate album closer, “I Love You,” as producer Dave Darling sat spellbound at the recording console. In the famed studio during sessions financed by selling a car, Danes shared her deeply personal tales of love and loss through the six acoustic jazz songs that she wrote for “Find Your Wings,” the DLG Records disc scheduled for release on October 14 that is completed by five standards and a stunning interpretation of blues singer Janiva Magness’ “When You Were My King.”
Late last month, as Danes plotted with her marketing and promotions team to gear up for the upcoming album release, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. True to the theme of “Find Your Wings,” the positive-minded vocalist faced her worst fears, saw the silver lining and penned a motivational blog, “Cancer Part 1: Vanity Saved My Life,” to help educate and encourage others facing their own health and personal challenges (http://www.annadanes.com/2016/07/31/cancer-part-1-vanity-saved-life/).
When Danes began the recording project that is slated to street during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she had the desire to emulate the sound of a pair of jazz vocal albums from the esteemed duo of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. Darling kept Danes’ captivating and expressive voice front and center in the mix using only sparse accompaniment from pianist Rich Ruttenberg, drummer John Ferraro and bassist Trey Henry. Blessed with a classic voice possessing charm, warmth, elegance and grace, Danes’ patient delivery and vocal phrasing uncoils with poise and complete control despite the vulnerability and intensity of her emotion-charged subject matter. Love is her ever-present muse on “Find Your Wings.” On originals, she sings a haunting melody on “The Voice,” pines hopefully on “See You In L.A.” and longs to see forever in the eyes of her lover on “Long Distance.” Among those she interprets from the Great American Songbook are Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait For You,” Sammy Cahn’s “It’s Crazy” and Johnny Mercer’s “I Want To Be Around” while on the romantic duet “That’s All,” she takes enduring vows with Richard Shelton’s debonair tenor.
“I’m a very late bloomer in life. For the majority of my life, I’ve either had little confidence or have drafted off other people’s confidence and floated under their wings,” said Danes, who wrote the title track with Cindy Alexander. “Cindy asked me what I wanted to write about. I told her about my story post-separation and how I found my voice and confidence through music. Bam! That’s all that was needed to start the creative process. What was supposed to be a song about finding hope, turned into an anthem about finding yourself, your true purpose, your voice, your identity and so much more.”
Finding her voice has been life transforming for the former lawyer and stay-at-home mom who has called San Diego home for the past 16 years. Danes hopes to empower people to pursue their passions and dreams with the songs on “Find Your Wings,” which will also be the subject of her first book, personal growth products and motivational speeches on the corporate circuit. Via music, writing and speaking, Danes’ encouraging message is that by facing your fears - in health and any personal challenge – you can break out of your cage, find your wings and transform your life.
Although she sang as a child in church after arriving in Sweden and settling in Canada after escaping Poland with her parents in 1979, Danes didn’t sing again until 2013 when her young daughter cried boredom and refused to participate at a vocal lesson. Since the lesson was already paid for, Danes stepped in. She released her debut album that same year, “Longing,” which was an extravagantly produced and elaborately-orchestrated collection of standards and modern pop tunes. Her love of jazz spawned the mission to bring more live jazz to the San Diego area through her own event production and promotion company, which produces the Jazz on Cedros series. For more information, please visit www.annadanes.com.
“Find Your Wings” contains the following songs:
“When You Were My King”
“I Will Wait For You”
“I Want To Be Around”/”Cry Me A River”
“Find Your Wings”
“In The Wee Small Hours”
“See You In L.A.”
“I Love You”