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Danami Talks McKnight Foundation, Creativity and Connecting With Fans

I read that you were awarded $25,000 for music via the McKnight Foundation. How did this opportunity come about?

Yes. I'm the first Hip-Hop artist to receive the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians. The opportunity came about during my morning free write. GOD spoke to me saying "apply for the McKnight grant." I jotted that thought down and a few days later applied for the grant. The submission request consisted of music, an artist statement, and artist resume.

There were three judging rounds: the first one judges listened to only music submitted for a ten minute duration, the second round judges heard more of your music in addition to reading your artist statement and resume, and the third/final round (if selected as a finalist) was a twenty minute performance followed by a Q&A. Thereafter the judges - panel of seven - judge your performance and reread your artist statement and resume. I encourage all artists to apply for grants especially artists of color. There's free money in the world to further pursue your dreams.

What other genres inspire you to be creative?

I'm so inspired by Soul music I seldom listen to Hip-Hop anymore. Soul music speaks to me on two levels, love and spiritually. Both of these levels heavily inspires my writing by inspiring me to create lyrics of love and rap/sing over music that touches the Soul. I'm really focused on changing peoples lives for the better through my music.

You have an upcoming EP set to drop called Before the Wait with G Mo Beats. Would you mind sharing the chemistry that you have with G Mo Beats?

Sure. My chemistry with G Mo (Beats) is a constantly growing chemistry. Ultimately, we both make the same music. G Mo's sound is very soulful - he plays a lot of big church chords in his beats - and me being inspired by Motown (where I was born and raised) and other Soul music perfectly aligns our styles.

Interesting fact about our working relationship is for two years from 2011 'til September of 2013 we only sent music to each other via email and we lived in the same city. In September, I asked him to be apart of my live band The Blue as our Keyboardist. As a result of weekly band rehearsals and monthly performances we've grown closer as friends and brothas which makes the creating process more fun and fluid.

I also researched that you work with a backing band called The Blue. Can you please share the benefits of performing with a live band?

The benefits I receive from performing with The Blue (a group of friends mostly from college) is the ability to capture raw organic energy onstage that you hear in Soul music from the 50s through the 80s. I also enjoy the flexibility to be spontaneous with my band that's impossible to do musically with a DJ.

How does Danami connect with his fan base?

My primary tool for connection is blogging about my life lessons to inspire my fans in their daily lives. I get real personal in my posts sharing vulnerable information such as my fear of asking for help when I was literally starving in November '13 or something fun like my thoughts on having healthy fun dating.


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