BIOGRAPHY

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ANNA DANES

​​Jazz Singer | Author | Speaker | Producer ​

Anna Danes is an advocate for passion-pursuing and an unstoppable dream-chaser. She is a former lawyer and stay-at-home mom who at the age of 43 reinvented herself when she turned to singing as a way to find her voice and to change her life when the love in her life was no more.

Producer Dave Darling, whose widely diverse credits include Brian Setzer, Tom Waits, Janiva Magness, and Motley Crue, was tapped to be at the helm of Anna’s second full length album, “Find Your Wings.” Recorded at Capitol Studios and joined by top LA session players, her sophomore effort is leaps and bounds beyond her 2013 debut, “Longing.” A mix of originals and smartly arranged covers, “Find Your Wings” takes the listener on a musical journey back in time when “real” music ruled the airwaves.

"I heard the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album in 2014 and loved the sparsity of the music and how strong Tony’s vocals were, how absolutely magnificent Bill’s playing was. I thought that if I were to make another album, it would be “like that”, strong and simple. The six standards were my “dear friends” already in my repertoire - we just added “When You Were My King” at Dave Darling’s suggestion. The six originals are all my stories from around the time of writing them. They are about life at the end of my marriage (The Voice, co-written with Cindy Alexander), life after separation (Mr. OMG, co-written with Mary Harris), and then life with a new love and falling in love - for the first time, actually (Long Distance, co-written with Dave Darling, See You in LA, co-written with Cindy Alexander,  and I Love You). And then, there’s the song that ties everything together and becomes the focal point and corner stone of my career so far, the inspirational “Find Your Wings”, co-written with Cindy Alexander. I wrote it for me, wrote it for my daughter, wrote it for everyone who needs to find their voice and their “wings” in life.”

ANNA'S STORY

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Anna was born in Gdansk, Poland. "Although I was young when we left, I remember it well. Life was very tough in Communist Poland. One had to live their lives in hiding. You couldn't really tell anyone much of anything because you didn't know who was in the Communist party and who wasn't. You were restricted, couldn't leave the country, couldn't travel, and had very few freedoms. My parents would get in trouble if they were too open-minded or spoke too openly at home. Both of them worked but financially it was horrible, and there wasn't anything to even buy with the money that they made."

Anna went with her family on a “vacation” to Sweden with a two-week visa and that’s when they escaped to the West. Although Sweden would not grant them asylum because they were considered economic rather than political refugees, her father was an engineer and, because Canada needed engineers, they soon settled in Ottawa. It was difficult for Anna at first for not only did she have to leave behind her entire extended family and friends in Poland (some of whom she never saw again), but she also had to become part of a different culture and learn two new languages, English and French. As well, she had to deal with the loneliness that took place after her parents eventually divorced.

One of her early joys involved singing. "I joined a Polish church choir in Ottawa and it just so happened that it was the year that Pope John Paul visited Canada. We had a chance to perform for him which was definitely a highlight." As a teenager, she discovered and fell in love with jazz, the music she would find herself drawn to for inspiration and comfort as she moved through life.

Anna excelled in high school and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Ottawa. After she had completed her undergraduate work in ancient history and archaeology, she went to law school at the University of Windsor. She practiced law for three years before reaching one of the turning points of her life. "I met my future husband and decided to follow my heart. I went with my instinct, left the law, closed down my practice, and moved to Southern California."

She worked as operations manager in her husband’s business, helping make it a success, then became a full-time mom. The next turning point in Anna's life was completely unexpected. At an auction, she bought her young daughter singing lessons since she had shown a strong interest in music. Things went fine for the first three lessons, but then her daughter lost her interest in singing. At the next lesson she refused to sing altogether. "I didn't want to waste the lesson so I decided to take it myself. The teacher, after hearing my voice, said 'Wow, where did you come from?’" One of the teachers, pianist-keyboardist-arranger-composer Larry White, became Anna's mentor. "I got very lucky. Larry has inspired me to reach my potential, getting me to sing perfectly in-tune at all times. He has helped me develop my own style, found songs that are suitable for me, tailored them for me and wrote all new arrangements. I have learned so much from him."

It was such a great feeling being able to sing, I felt free and liberated.” As she did when she moved to Canada and had to learn new languages, and when she worked hard to become a lawyer, Anna threw herself wholeheartedly into this new phase of her life. Along with her determination, she had such a strong natural talent that she developed very quickly. In the studio to record a few demos so as to hear how she sounded, the reaction from others was so favorable that she soon found herself recording her first CD.

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She is now a successful singer, speaker and producer. In addition to her life as a singer, Anna produces private and public events as well as the very successful Jazz On Cedros concert series in San Diego that has been celebrating sold-out shows since its inception in 2014.  Anna is also a soon to be published author as she is writing her first book, “Find Your Wings” which talks about her journey, living in different cultures and re-inventing herself. It is also a book of motivation and inspiration.

She recently began producing another project, The Jazz Divas, by bringing together 15 of San Diego’s top jazz singers, and presenting them in a glamorous Vanity Fair cover-style photoshoot held at the San Diego Symphony. Magazine editorials, a documentary and a “Jazz Diva” show are currently in the works based on the concept.

Anna is an avid philanthropist especially around causes that support women, children and the arts and sits on a board of the San Diego Symphony. She has sang the National Anthem twice now at Opening Day of the Del Mar Race Track, in front of an audience of about 50,000 people. She’s appeared on TV and other media.

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