Danika Holmes
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Danika Holmes

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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Danika Holmes quickly rattles off the names of female singer-songwriters, including Norah Jones, Jewel, Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow and Ingrid Michaelson.

It's a list of artists to whom the 28-year-old Bettendorf singer has drawn comparisons, as well as her own musical idols.

And it's company she wouldn't mind keeping someday.

But until then, the vivacious singer-songwriter is happy calling herself a full-time musician.

"There are so many talented unknown musicians out there who are making a great living as musicians. They're doing what they love," Holmes explained. "No one knows who they are, so they live a completely normal lifestyle, but they do what they love."

After receiving some industry buzz for her first album, "Second Chances," last year, she's at work recording a second album, "Living Your Dream," which is due out this fall.

Two tracks have already been recorded and released. The title song debuted on iTunes a few weeks ago, and a followup, "Bluebird," came out this week.

Next week she'll return to Nashville, where the first two of the new songs were recorded, to lay down four more tracks. In a few weeks she'll be back in Tennessee to record another four songs.

While her debut album projected an image of the girl next door (the album cover had her clad in a plaid shirt, standing in a field), the newest album shows a more sophisticated side with elegant poses in black dresses.

The recording sites are different - the first was done in Avon, Ill., a small town in Knox County - as is the sound. The initial album had more country influences, while the project ahead is more acoustic-based pop with a blues tinge.

The subject matter is different, too. Much of the first album had an underlying theme of her emotions after the death of her father.

"It's a very optimistic album," she said of the upcoming release. "There were a lot of sadder songs on my first album. This one, ‘Living Your Dream,' is all about going for it in life. It's a message of hope."

And Holmes is practicing what she preaches.

Describing herself as "horribly optimistic," she's going out to promote her music as much as she can.

That has meant performing on a recent nine-city tour through England, her first trip overseas.

"The people over there really, really appreciate original music a lot," she said of the tour on which she was accompanied by her guitarist, Jeb Hart. "I was getting more requests for originals than I ever do in the United States."

Locally, she's playing this weekend at the Grape Life Wine Emporium in Davenport and the Wide River Winery in Clinton, Iowa. (Wine drinkers, she said, are her favorite crowd and just the people she's seeking with her sound.)

"You just cannot get out there and meet enough people. In terms of shows, you can't perform too much," she added.

Holmes, who put her Iowa State University doctorate in education and personal finance on hold so she could seek a music career, has a keen bead on the business side of music as well, networking as much as possible and releasing the upcoming album on her own label, Red Schoolhouse Records.

She's also listed her project on Kickstarter.com, an online fundraising platform where artists, musicians and others ask for donations to their projects. In return, contributors receive anything from an advance copy of the album to their name in the credits to their own private house concert.

While doing what she can to advance her career, she's also taking the attitude of whatever happens, happens.

"I haven't gone searching for a deal. It's never been a priority for me," she said. "I've always thought that if the time comes, they'll find me."

With her financial background, she knows major music companies don't want to gamble on new artists.

"Nobody these days wants to take on a new, unknown, undeveloped act. They want to sign people who are out there, who are touring and doing it successfully on their own. And then they want to take it to the next level," she said. "So to sit around and wait for a record label ... is very unrealistic."

Holmes said she's trying to keep the optimism slightly ahead of the realism.

"The realistic side of me never thought a career would really happen," she said. "I just never really had the guts to do it."

She's also spurred on by the memory of her father, who died at the age of 54. That experience stays with her in thoughts that her own time is finite.

"This is really my one chance to do what I want to be doing," she said.



Read more: http://qctimes.com/entertainment/music/article_fc4e6e84-9d15-11e0-89d3-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1QFAVOL7e - Quad City Times


Danika Holmes is the "whole package"! In the world of music and entertainment that phrase can conjure up skepticism and a whole lot of discernment. After all, everybody has a different interpretation of what exactly the "whole package" entails. After, reading this column you will have a much better understanding as to how this pertains to the lovely and talented Danika; as she is much more than just looks and creative ability.

Everyone notices Danika.

The pop rock singer/songwriter from Davenport, Iowa is obviously gorgeous. An astute twenty three year old male recently noted after witnessing her performance at the Red Shed (during SXSW) in Austin, TX this past March, "Every guy in the place gravitated towards Danika. They were either checking her out or trying to talk to her afterwards. I mean EVERY guy!"

FYI, my son is very wise beyond his years.

In an industry which today is as much about visual as sound; Danika is so much more than only a pretty face. She is an extremely talented musician, songwriter and vocalist. Plus, she is only a dissertation away from earning a PhD; which for the present time is on hold while her career is taking off. (Gulp!) That is right guys. She is smart too!

Okay, so we covered beauty, talent and brains. Guess what? She is as sweet as apple pie which comes across in her vocals and in her down to Earth personality. This became apparent to this enamored columnist following a recent Chicago performance at JJ Kelley's and during a short question and answer session with the budding star.


Q & A

(Q) "What is your favorite thing about Chicago?"

(Danika) " I love the river that runs through the city! I went on an architectural boat tour one time and it rocked. I loved hearing the history behind the buildings and seeing the Willis Tower from that angle."

(Q) "Any memorable Chicago experiences?"

(Danika) "My brother used to live in Wrigleyville. I have the best memories of visiting him there and walking along Lake Michigan. We used to eat at all those little outdoor patio restaurants. Plus, I loved those Sunday brunches with mimosas!"

Danika Holmes on UK tour

Danika expects to be back in the windy city this summer and fall. She recently played the Elbo Room but as fate would have it that was the same night the Bears played the Packers in the NFC title game. After her upcoming trip across the big pond Danika would appreciate a re-do. She is embarking on a United Kingdom tour this May. Danika will be touring with her co-songwriter and guitarist Jeb Hart. The duo will be performing as an acoustic act. Danika and Jeb, however also perform an electric show with a full band from time to time.

Meanwhile, drooling Chicago fans can sustain themselves by checking out her hot video "Lock Me in Tonight" which is a single from her 2010 CD release "Second Chances". On May 1st, Danika will release her new single called "Living Your Dream". Knowing that Danika Holmes is in fact the "whole package" reminds us how aptly the new song is titled.


- The Chicago Examiner


Mike from "American Pickers" names Danika's music as "music to pick by!" - antiquearcheology.com


It is a brave thing to start a set of modern American country folk songs with a tale of loss and vulnerability, but this brave thing defines the music that follows, it states from the get go that this is a candid and original glimpse of the those that survive, but still are fragile, human, even scared. In this opening the singers prayers are perhaps not answered but by the asking, she is, one feels, made stronger, strong enough to carry on.

The sultry percussive ‘Unlit Match’ carries on this theme, the singer, detached, watches the girl on the stage, deconstructs the rebel boy myth, and the music is an invitation to let go, take those dangerous chances and prove those who would box you into a cliché, totally wrong.

All is not internal though, in stand out track, the ballad ‘Annie May’ Holmes sings the life of a quietly extraordinary woman, sketching the passage of time and history with remarkable subtlety and grace.

Then in ‘Pockets Full Of Gold’ she brings it back to the intimate world of the couple, through faith and love in each other surviving the (harsher) world around them. In fact all through this album, she commits her self to the belief that its ok to lean on those you trust, to show diary like the simple secrets of the soul.

This is a set that describes how the cold country of Alone, is left behind.

All this is tied together in the title track, the darkness has been preserved against, and the night is turning into day. What I particularly like here is the admission that even in this brand new hope of a day the journey may still be tough and even third chances may be needed.

Yes this is mainstream music, but I find no concessions here, or cynical production tricks, no artifice.

That all these songs are wrapped in a perfectly balanced mix of the pop smooth and the country honest lets us know that her message will soon get into the hearts of radio listeners everywhere.

- The Next Big Thing


"Second Chances" is the debut CD from Danika Holmes, a singer/songwriter from Iowa. Holmes has had some tough breaks in life but tries to squeeze those lemons into lemonade through her music. Her songs are packed full of emotions that parallel many women's lives (and some men too!). As she says, "Women are emotional beings. We feel love, sadness, hope, loneliness...we feel everything". She really wants you to take something meaningful away from her songs.

Holmes has a voice that is gentle as a breeze - perfectly suited for when she tries to empathize her lyrics. I imagine she is a great shoulder to cry on, but also imagine she cries a lot on someone else's shoulder. She makes good use of harmony vocals - so good that I wish they were more abundant throughout the record. Musically, "Second Chances" bounces all over the map, but the thread that ties it altogether is that welcoming tone in her voice.

"Second Chances" begins with one of its strongest cuts, a straightforward pop rock/country tune called "Half As Strong As You". This is one of the tracks where Holmes sounds most comfortable and I was expecting a CD full of radio-friendly nuggets like this tune. But from here, Holmes heads into K.T. Tunstall territory with "Unlit Match" and then veers into a sultry jazz sound with "You Make A Bad Day Good". She then creeps into folk territory by going back to her singer/songwriter roots with a tender ode to granny called "Annie May". I enjoyed this track quite a bit - in addition to being a moving tribute, the song is a bit of a history lesson and achieves her goal to leave you with something meaningful to contemplate.

Before long, Holmes is back in fifth gear with an energetic country rock jam called "Lock Me In Tonight", which reminds me of Shania Twain. "If You Love Me Just Say It" is a quirky little folk song, but undeniably charming and catchy - ukulele and all. What this record needs now is...oh, wait, here it is...the sweeping ballad, "Sounds Like Goodbye". This song is notable because it is well structured and heartfelt, with Holmes turning in one of her more confident vocal performances. "Time For A Change" digs down into the realm of classic country and blues, sounding like something June Carter may have done. "Pockets Full Of Gold" is a simple acoustic piece that shines in melody, production, and lyrical content - this is another type of song where Holmes sounds most at home.

Fans of Chrissy Coughlin, Sheryl Crow, or Jewel need to give "Second Chances" a chance. - Bill's Music Forum


The typical aspiring singer/songwriter gets started by playing hometown open-mic nights. Danika Holmes is not typical.

The 27-year-old Davenport resident said in a recent interview that her mother regularly told her, "I always knew you weren't normal, Danika." Holmes added: "I'm not exactly sure how to take that coming from my Mom, but I'll take it as a good thing."

In terms of her music, being abnormal meant making her public debut last year at an audition for Nashville's Bluebird Cafe, at which Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift got their starts.

"I have big dreams," Holmes explained. "I have big goals. ... I wanted to get where all the action is immediately. ... As a songwriter, if you can make it into the Bluebird Cafe, you've really accomplished something great."

She wasn't selected based on her audition, but you can hear her chutzpah on the track "Unlit Match" from her debut CD, Second Chances: "She got a strong confidence when you look her straight in the eye / But when she steps on stage you know that woman ain't shy / She's like an unlit match / Just waiting to burn."

Holmes will be celebrating the release of the album May 15 at the Redstone Room, and she opened for the Nadas there on April 24. So she's circling back to the accepted new-artist tack. But Holmes doesn't have little plans, and she hopes to tour Europe next year.

"Pockets Full of Gold"

Holmes said she taught for four years and, at the point she chose to pursue music - she had just turned 26 - she was a dissertation away from a Ph.D. in personal finance. "I ended up writing an album instead of a dissertation," she said.

Mostly co-written with producer Paul Hamilton, Second Chances is dominated by ballads, with some gentle rockers and a dash of backwoods country thrown in. Holmes pulls them all off vocally, with a bright, adaptable voice.

The up-tempo, electric-guitar-heavy "Lock Me in Tonight" is charmingly ambivalent about a relationship but decisive about a little thing: "I made up my mind / For this glass of wine."

"Lock Me in Tonight"

And the teasing country of "If You Love Me, Just Say It" is the album's highlight, with Holmes' voice both affectionate and gently poking its target, perfectly matched with the music: "You keep saying how much you really like me / But I don't want to be another friend / 'Cause I ain't never kissed a friend like that and that's a fact."

Her ambition and singing at this point outstrip her songwriting chops, which will undoubtedly grow with seasoning and practice. Slower, conversational songs such as "Half as Strong as You" and "Annie May" are heartfelt but too vague, mistaking a lack of specificity for universality. And there's not enough going on musically to mask their deficiencies.

The former, Second Chances' opening track, comes from her father's death from cancer, and its immediacy is clearly drawn from pain. While many people will find it touching and inspiring, for me it's begging for telling details and sharper language: "This disease is stealing you / You're mostly unresponsive." And it never gets deeper than surface emotions; I don't get any sense of a relationship beyond the one on the death bed.

"Annie May," meanwhile, has a good hook, marking a woman's long life with national and global events: "Tell me all about it, Annie May / Tell me all the stories of your days." But outside of the barest biographical details - the number of her children, for example - the song never sketches Annie May outside of her context, as an individual. And its sense of history is rudimentary, with "two more wars for freedom" shorthand for the Cold War conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

"Sounds Like Goodbye" shows more potential in its chorus. The words themselves work - "How come when you say 'I love you, darling' / It sounds like goodbye?" - but it's the break between the lines that really sells them, with ample time driving the sentiment home. And the aching singing and nimble phrasing on the title track elevate the material.

"Sounds Like Goodbye"

It's also critical to remember that Holmes has been doing this less than two years, and being genuinely good at just about anything takes longer than that.

"I'm definitely looking forward to improving," Holmes said, "but I'm also really proud of my first project."

Danika Holmes will celebrate the release of Second Chances with a performance on Saturday, May 15, at the Redstone Room (123 Main Street in Davenport). The show starts at 9 p.m., and the bill also includes Paige Popejoy. Admission is $5.

- River Cities Reader


Bettendorf native Danika Holmes' debut album, "Second Chances," is filled with songs about her father passing away, getting out of a bad relationship, realizing she wasn't happy in her job and starting over.

"My life was thrown upside down in one phone call, it changed so quickly," Holmes said. "That's sort of when I realized I was working a job that I wasn't really happy in and all these bad things kept happening to me. This is my only life, this is the only chance I get, so I really need to be pursuing something that I find enjoyment in."

Holmes, 27, started playing the piano when she was 5 years old and learned to play the guitar after her father passed away in 2005, channeling her emotions into deeply personal lyrics and finding comfort in the music.

Now as Holmes plays shows, fans come up to her and tell her how they can relate to her lyrics, which is exactly what she is hoping for.

"That was really scary for me at first," Holmes said. "It felt like you were standing on stage and unzipping your soul with everyone right there. Then after a few performances, I realized I would rather be singing personal lyrics that had a lot of significance and a lot of meaning."

Before quitting a teaching job to pursue music full-time, Holmes was pursuing a doctorate in education and finance at Iowa State University. She just has her dissertation left to write and hasn't given up on obtaining the degree, but for now her priorities are focused on booking a tour and shooting her first music video, which she hopes to premiere at Saturday's CD release show at the Redstone Room inside River Music Experience in Davenport.

"Last year I ended up writing an album instead of a dissertation. They're both very, very challenging and they both require a lot of self-determination," Holmes said. "Right now the hardest one for me is the dissertation because I'm not motivated to do that as I am to write songs right now. I think the difficulty comes in where my heart is at the time."



Copyright 2010 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

- The Quad City Times


Danika Holmes is a rising star in the heartland. She is a versatile singer/songwriter who could have written for June Carter as well as she could write for Shania Twain or K.T. Tunstall. Danika has just released her debut record, “Second Chances”, and was kind enough to take a little time to tell us about it.

Q: Danika – thanks for taking the time to chat. “Second Chances” is quite an impressive debut. When did it dawn on you that music was what you wanted to do for a living?

A: Thanks for the interview and I really appreciate your kind words. Now to answer your question…once upon a time I lived a normal life. Then “normal” went splat to say the least. I was at a turning point in my life personally and in a job I wasn’t happy with. I needed to do something different. I was always far too “reasonable” to pursue my musical dreams so I traveled the safe academic route. While my personal life was a disaster relationship-wise and while I was dealing with the passing of my father, I had this point where I realized that this one life was my only chance at this music thing so it was now or never! Once I made the decision to pursue music full time I ran full speed ahead and never looked back. It feels good to finally have the guts to pursue a dream! More people should try it!

Q: Your record features a lot of classic and modern country and folk – would you say growing up in Iowa was primarily responsible for that?

A: I actually grew up in a very suburban area of Iowa. I’ve never had any real farm experiences per say, just driving by lots of corn! One of my older brothers listened to country music and he got our whole family hooked on it! Also, my producer Paul Hamilton is definitely responsible for the country sounds in the album as well.

Q: If you could spend a day with one of your musical influences, who would that be and why?

A: Sheryl Crow for sure! I’ve been a fan of hers since I was in middle school. I’d also love to have one more day with my dad. He played guitar and was always singing songs around the house. I’d like to ask him what he thinks of me becoming a singer/songwriter and listen to his advice. He always had the best advice.

Q: The song “Annie May” really struck a chord with me – I think it would for anyone who has loved their grandma. Would you care to elaborate on writing this personal tribute?

A: This is actually a tribute to a few different people. It was written by myself and two other co-writers (Paul Hamilton and Drew Witherell). Drew is a history teacher and was able to really help out on the historical/technical side of the song. My grandparents are in their 90’s and so much of this had to do with them. Paul also has some elderly friends that were used as inspiration for Annie May. We tried to be as specific as possible, while leaving it open enough for the listener to think of their “Annie May” as they listened to the song. In fact, we’re actually going to be putting together a music video of sorts featuring pictures of fans “Annie May’s.” So, if you’d like, send a photo of you with the Annie May in your life to danika@danikaholmes.com.

Q: Describe one average day in the life of singer/songwriter Danika Holmes.

A: I spend a few hours each morning on-line communicating via social networking sites and answering emails from fans as well as running the business side of being an independent artist. Then I’m off to the gym for a cardio and weights class. There’s usually coffee involved at some point and I absolutely love Thai food, so many days you can find me at my favorite Thai place. Afternoons I spend writing or practicing with my band; the same most evenings unless I have a show or am going to watch a friends show. If I have any free time I’ll pop in a movie and eat ice cream! I definitely like to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day too! A phone call to my mom or a friend in there is always a plus.

Q: What do you think of the music scene in Iowa? Do you have plans to strike out to LA or NYC to “hit it big”?

A: I’d rather move to a tour bus than anywhere else right now! However, I do love Nashville and I’ve always planned on moving there eventually when the time is right. I shot my first music video in LA and my publicist is out of New York but I’m way more of a Nashville girl!

Q: The title track, “Second Chances”, is another very personal song. Why don’t you tell us more about that song and why it was selected to be the title track for your debut?

A: As I mentioned before, I was going through some major changes in my life. I literally feel like I’ve lived two lives at this point. Starting over with a music career was my second chance at life. I’m actually giving this song away for free to anyone who wants it! It’s just my way of saying thanks to everyone who is willing to give a new artist a try! You can download your copy from danikaholmes.com.

Q: What can fans expect next from Danika Holmes?

A: My first music video to the song “Lock Me In Tonight” was just filmed. Check it out on my website soon. I’m also working on developing a “fans” section for my website where I post fan photos and fun facts about the cool people listening to my music. Basically a place for fans to post comments, questions they might have, etc. I’m even thinking about turning the tables around and me interviewing and featuring my fans every now and then. After all, if it weren’t for people listening and buying my music I’d be out of work! I’m just trying to send some love back to all those who have show so much support for what I’m doing. If you have any ideas for the fan forum let me know please!

I’m fortunate enough to have some amazing musicians in my band; Jeb Hart on guitar and Wes Weeber on drums. We’re looking at organizing a tour right now. If you want us to come to your city let us know!

Thanks for your time and I really love hearing from fans so hope to hear from you all. Thanks Rock and Roll Report for your support!

On behalf of Rock and Roll Report, thanks again for your time and best of luck with the new release!

- The Rock and Roll Report


I love discovering new and fresh music. There is just something I love about listening to something you don’t hear every 10 songs on the radio. It is also enjoyable to listen to new voices, new words, and new tunes!



Danika Holmes, Americana singer/songwriter, first sat at a piano as a tot, has been writing since her teens, and picked up guitar in her 20’s. After an attempt at a “normal career” and nearly finishing her PhD, Danika’s heart pulled her full circle back to where she started, with music.

“Through my songs I hope to touch hearts in the tough times, as well as celebrate life in the good times.” –Danika Holmes

A series of traumatic personal events, including the death of her father and a relationship betrayal ending in a broken heart led Danika to re-evaluate her life goals. When at rock bottom she turned to music. Danika began writing down her feelings in song format and spending hours a day playing guitar as a way of clearing her mind. Music became her escape from the reality of her shattered life. Danika believes that even though personally trying situations seem to be impossible to endure while in the midst of them, eventually time will prevail and one emerges as either broken or stronger.

“I hope that my songs will help others in the midst of difficult circumstances to emerge stronger.”



Life experiences, the influence of her dad, and her passion for music have shaped Danika into the writer and artist she has become today. Danika says her influences are Sheryl Crow, the Beatles, Duffy, Third Day, Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, and Natasha Bedingfield…to name a few. She is said to sound like Colbie Caillat, Norah Jones, Jewel, and Dusty Springfield. All great singers!

In 2009, Danika released her CD “Second Chances.” I received this album and love it! It is calming, soothing, and lifts my spirits. This is a great CD to sing along to in the car. I can’t get enough of this acoustic music. Honestly!

“Danika Holmes isn’t just easy on these eyes. She’s a true American talent… I couldn’t stop listening!! She’s in my CD player right now.” –Mike Wolfe (American Pickers, The History Channel)

To top everything off….she is a midwest girl like me. In fact, she is from Davenport, Iowa…just 2 hours from my parents home!



My favorite song is You Make A Bad Day Good (Track 3). It is the perfect love song! The words “The way you hold me near, one kiss for every tear, you listen to my fears…you…you…” remind me of my marriage. My husband does just that. I swear Danika wrote this song about my hubby and I…see…”And even when I’ve said too much, you never push me away/Sometimes when I’m sad, it’s that silly face that makes me laugh.” What a wonderful song. Thanks Danika!

To listen to some of the songs on the album “Second Chances” go to her My Space page or her website. Become a fan on facebook and don’t miss out on what is going on with Danika. You will become addicted too! Get to know her more by watching her videos. She looks like she would make a great friend….watch the last video! What a fun personality!

For a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song Second Chances go to Danika Holmes’ website.

- Real Moms Real Views


Danika Holmes is a fresh face on the music scene. Her music is acoustic with a smattering of country, folk and pop sprinkled on top for added flavor. The album is perfectly balanced with songs that beg to be played at full blast as well as quieter songs that will give you cause to think a little.

The fist time I listened to “Annie May” I was intrigued by the lyrics. After I listened to it a few more times, I found myself crying. This song is about an elderly lady telling her stories to a younger woman. It really made me think of my own grandmother who would be 7 years older than the “Annie May” of this song. It made me wish I had heard more of grandma’s stories while she was still with us. When Danika sings “Tell me all about it Annie May. Tell me all the stories of your days. What you’ve seen in a lifetime…oh Annie May” its difficult not to tear up. This song is so poignant, so full of love and family. It is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve had the good fortune to listen to.

There’s fun to be had on Second Chances as well. “If You Love Me, Just Say It” is a wonderful old time country sounding song, complete with an awesome banjo. The song that will get everyone’s feet tapping is “Lock Me In Tonight.” This song has everything that a great tune needs. There’s a great guitar riff and a catchy chorus with a small touch of country to it. Everything about this song screams “fun!” Put this song when the sun is shining and you are driving down the interstate, probably over the speed limit.

“Half As Strong As You” is one of those songs that everyone needs to listen to when going through a rough patch. It may just make every listener a little stronger. There’s a hidden track that reminds us the importance of friendship. “Dear Friends” is a thank you to all the importance of those that share in your life.

Second Chances is an impressive debut, full of songs that will appeal to fans of country and pop. Don’t let the genres keep you from giving Danika a listen. Her songs shouldn’t be pigeonholed into one specific area. You need to listen to them, and come to love them and its really something that’s not to hard to do. Danika has a strong voice and her songwriting comes from the heart. That’s a combination that can’t go wrong. Second Chances is an album not to be missed!

Genre: Country/Pop
Sounds Like: Martina McBride
Buy: Amazon
Released: March 20, 2010
Rating: 9.5/10
- livejournal.com


Posted Online: April 22, 2010, 11:10 am
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
Danika Holmes pours herself into her passionate songs -- using her personal creations to touch hearts in tough times, as well as celebrate the good times.

The talented 27-year-old Bettendorf native abandoned a planned (and nearly completed) Ph.D in education and finance to focus on music. With her debut CD recently released, Ms. Holmes will open for The Nadas tonight at the Redstone Room, Davenport. She describes herself as "primarily pop music with a country influence that sounds like a cross between Colbie Caillat and Norah Jones."

Having played piano since age 5, Ms. Holmes has written songs she was 13. As the fourth of five kids, she sang show tunes around the house with her younger brother, and found she preferred singing to sports at Bettendorf High School. She was active in community theater, dance and choir.

Ms. Holmes earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Iowa State University (with an emphasis on financial management), and planned to be a college professor or a financial planner. She's always hoped to run her own business.

She taught finance and fashion design for four years at a Bermuda high school, but wasn't happy there. "I was meant to be a musician instead of a teacher," Ms. Holmes said this week. "I thought I could have more of an impact doing something like this," she said.

Traumatic personal events, including the death of her father at age 54 from lymphoma and a relationship betrayal ending in a broken heart, also led her to re-evaluate her life goals. When at rock bottom, Ms. Holmes turned to music, and two years ago started learning guitar. Her father played a 12-string, which she has now.



She said music became her escape from the reality of her shattered life. The first song on her first disc, "Half as Strong as You," is about her dad. "He always encouraged me to pursue my dreams," Ms. Holmes said. "He was also very realistic."

Her strongest musical influences include Sheryl Crow, the Beatles, Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, and she enjoys a variety of styles, from jazz and blues to folk, rock, country and roots music.

Paul Hamilton, a childhood friend who's in his 50s, collaborated with Ms. Holmes on songwriting. She recorded the album over the past year at his Big White House Studios in Avon, Ill., about 90 minutes southeast of the Quad-Cities.

Tonight, Ms. Holmes will perform with Jeb Hart (owner of Q-C Music Education Coalition) on guitar and Wes Weeber on drums. Mr. Hart played on the CD, and she'll have a CD release party Saturday, May 15, back at the Redstone Room, which includes a full performance. She already has a promoter in New York and hopes to tour with The Nadas, a Des Moines-based country band.

"I'm really excited about the album," Ms. Holmes said of her 11-song debut. "I can feel myself grow as a writer, as a performer. It makes me look forward to what the next album will be."




If you go

What: Danika Holmes

When: 8:30 tonight.

Where: Redstone Room, 2nd and Main streets, Davenport

Tickets: $10 in advance (available at www.redstoneroom.com or at the River Music Experience), or $15 at the door.

For more information: Visit www.danikaholmes.com or www.myspace.com/danikaholmes.

- Rock Island Argus / Dispatch


I think you’re really going to like Danika Holmes! Her lyrics run the gamut from broken hearts to family histories to…tough financial times. Danika’s stories are woven with some terrific melodies, and she’s got a voice that can express tremendous emotion! We played “If You Love Me Just Say It” and “Second Chances” on our 11pm Sunday night unsigned-artists show: ‘NEW! Discover and Uncover”, and they sounded great on air. Her music is so diverse it’s hard to describe as just one genre or another---it’s just DANIKA HOLMES MUSIC! Give her a listen.
- Jim O’Hara (Director of Programming Operations, WLLR/Clear Channel Quad Cities)

Danika Holmes isn't just easy on these eyes. She's a true American talent… I couldn't stop listening!! She's in my CD player right now.
-Mike Wolfe (American Pickers, The History Channel)


A talented and gifted singer, songwriter and musician; but it is the way she connects with her fans, fellow musicians, strangers and friends that places Danika a cut above the rest.
– Don Guckert, Drummer (The Remains)


This album (Second Chances) helps each of us to reflect and take a little time to ourselves in this crazy fast paced life.
-Marilyn Seago, Fan


"It is not often a Singer/Songwriter with the talent and musical quality of Danika Holmes comes around. Danika is able to captivate the audience with her soulful passion and powerful deliverance of musical style and sound. Danika is an absolute gem of presence on stage and leaves audiences humming her melodies in their minds for hours on after."
- Paige Popejoy- Singer/Songwriter/Musician


Danika Holmes’ songs attract with melody and capture with lyrics. During a recent performance, she had a room full of music fans clapping and singing along with pure joy.
– Michael Karnell, Musician and Fan
- Various Individuals


Discography

2nd Album: Living Your Dream- Release Date: March 6, 2012

Debut Album: Second Chances- Release Date May 15, 2010

1. Half As Strong As You (3:55)
2. Unlit Match (3:02)- received podcast feature
3. You Make A Bad Day Good (4:25)
4. Annie May (5:51)
5. Lock Me in Tonight (3:53) Received Radio Airplay
6. If You Love Me, Just Say It (2:34) Received Radio Airplay
7. Sounds Like Goodbye (3:59)
8. Time for a Change (4:30)
9. Pockets Full of Gold (3:37) Received Radio Airplay and podcast feature
10. Second Chances (3:01) Received Radio Airplay
Bonus Track: Dear Friends (2:28)

*Lock Me In Tonight, Unlit Match, Half As Strong As You, Pockets Full of Gold and Second Chances have all received airplay on independent radio stations, internet radio stations or have been featured in podcasts.

Photos

Bio

“Danika Holmes is a rising star in the heartland!” says Bill Sullivan of The Rock and Roll Report.  American Picker Mike Wolfe of The History Channel says, “She’s a true American talent… I couldn’t stop listening!”  Music critics agree that Danika is charming and energetic with a welcoming tone in her voice which is as gentle as a breeze. 

Holmes played over 120 shows around the US and UK in 2011 and will take the stage for another 160 shows in 2012.  At shows fans tell her how they can relate to her lyrics, which is exactly what she is hoping for.  “At first that was really scary for me.  I felt like I was standing on stage and unzipping my soul!” 

“Second Chances,” Danika’s debut album, was released in March of 2010.  The title track is a reflection of Danika’s dogmatic belief that everyone benefits from a second chance, or even a third, along life’s way.  Starting over with a music career was her second chance in life.  A fan favorite “Lock Me In Tonight” was made into Danika’s first music video and was released in June 2010. 

Danika’s follow up album “Living Your Dream” was recorded in Nashville, TN, and drops in early 2012.  This collection of songs offers an optimistic take on life.  While Danika’s debut album leaned more towards the folk scene, she takes it to the next level by adding in an edgy rock vibe complete with horns; a bold move for this singer/songwriter from Iowa. Holmes will be promoting her album via a national tour in March of 2012 and a European tour in June 2012.

Uniquely, "Living Your Dream" was fan funded in its entirety.  When Danika's fans began asking to hear her new music, she accepted the challenge by launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the recording of the album.  A rave response came in from over 150 backers around the world! Danika tweeted, "I'm grateful to everyone who took a few minutes out of their busy lives to pledge to our album project.  Hugs to you all!"  Fans who contributed to Danika’s 2nd album were given pre-release copies and are already declaring it a new favorite.     

While music has always been an important part of Danika’s life, it wasn’t always the main focus.  By the time she was 26 Danika was only a dissertation away from completing her PhD.  “In 2009 I ended up writing an album instead of a dissertation.  Now, I use everything I learned in my graduate studies to run my own business as an independent artist and entertainer, so it was time well spent!”  Once she made the decision to pursue music full time, she realized that as a songwriter, she was the one who could most passionately perform the message of her own songs. 

Danika grew up in a family of five kids.  She says, “I was a little rag-a-muffin who tromped around in hand me down clothes and spent every free minute building projects with my dad or creating something, anything, from fashions to songs and dances.”  Now more than ever, Danika is happy to be creating.  Her passion for music and her life experiences lend the inspiration for her songs that reverberate with hope. Onstage Danika delivers her tunes with extreme vibrance, both inspiring and entertaining.