Dayna Kurtz
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Dayna Kurtz

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"assorted quotes"

Dayna Kurtz is the kind of artist who inspires wild-eyed zealotry among her fans, and there are three reasons for it: One, she's an artist's artist, one whose whiskeyed, determined alto often earns her comparisons with Nina Simone; two, while Europeans adore her, she's obscenely underappreciated in her own country; and three, her songs, which straddle a difficult space between jazz, rock, and folk, are pure poetry. Kurtz chooses her backing players as carefully as her words, and here they display an audible knowingness of her character -- when her mood shifts, they match it with idiosyncratic mastery. Another Black Feather owes its artist instant stardom. If that's unattainable, it should at least earn her the one descriptor all serious artists strive for: important. - Tammy La Gorce ALL MUSIC GUIDE

"Kurtz tilts her head back at an angle and spins melodic, earthbound poetry that sets loose demons only to dismiss them into the ether...Kurtz makes ordinary misery voluptuous, and sings other people's songs as if she knows better than their authors what those songs are about." -Judith Lewis LA WEEKLY

...everything falls breathtakingly together: lyrics, melody and that tremendous voice. Mitchell, Piaf, Holiday – she belongs alongside such huge names. -Frits Abrahams, NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)

“Rich as the darkest Godiva chocolate, the voice gets into your bones until you can barely sleep at night and can’t get through the day without it….Kurtz sounds at times like her musical DNA contains traces of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, not to mention the world’s great cabaret singers.” – Paste

“Dayna Kurtz is one of those talents who makes you wonder where and how she’s been hiding all this time.” – Performing Songwriter

“Dayna Kurtz’s diverse vocals feel both old and new, recalling Nina Simone of yesteryear…hypnotically haunting” – New York Post

“More Austin than Lucinda Williams and more southern than Shelby Lynne....the kind of singer-songwriter that other troubadours swear by...” -Steve Baltin, Rolling

“Dayna Kurtz’s voice is a deep-hued garnet of lifeblood and beauty…” – The Washington Post

“There’s no logical reason why Dayna Kurtz is not a full blown star. “Dayna Kurtz's husky, emotionally torn voice creates a dark-eyed cabaret, expressing jagged emotions with the slightest sigh or grand, moaning sustain.” – Boston Globe. – Boston Globe

“…Recalls the Buckleys, Leonard Cohen and Marianne Faithful. Like a younger Nina Simone, Kurtz can switch from languorous reflection to wounded, gutsy attack.” – Q Magazine

“It’s gorgeous and gripping-essential nocturnal listening.” - Paste, Aug/Sept. 04

“Kurtz has an instantly recognizable voice, an almost hoarse whisper full of weary passion that sounds both comforting and dangerous, a voice on the edge of enlightenment or madness. “Love Where Did You Go” is as mournful and poetic as anything Leonard Cohen has ever cut, while she makes Billie Holiday’s “Left Alone” as chilling as the original, with an understated reading full of anguish and regret.” - HARP

“What makes Dayna Kurtz’s new album “Beautiful Yesterday” so inspiring isn’t just the vast range of material. Nor is it her uncommonly distinctive voice, which cuts straight to the heart with a deep, soulful melancholy. …Her precious gift is how deftly she puts her stamp on almost anyone else’s song.” - Billboard

- Globe, Washington Post, Paste, Mojo, Uncut, allmusic, LA Weekly, Harp


Secret Canon Vol. 1, (Feb. 2011)
American Standard LP (Feb. 2011)
"Gone Away" (split 7" single w/My Brightest Diamond) (May 2010)
"For the Love of Hazel: Songs for Hazel Dickens" EP (Feb. 2010)
Another Black Feather LP (June 2006)
Beautiful Yesterday Sessions EP (Dec. 2004)
Beautiful Yesterday LP (August 2004)
Postcards from Amsterdam: Live in Concert" DVD (Feb. 2004)
Postcards from Downtown LP (March 2002)



Dayna Kurtz's new album, Secret Canon, Vol 1, recorded in 4 days, live to tape in New York and New Orleans, pays homage to some undersung gems mostly from the late 50's to the early 60's. Dayna says: "I love finding lost songs, and my favorite songs from every genre were from this era. There were so many wonderful storefront record labels - we've all heard of Chess, Stax, and Motown - but every city had at least one, and an awful lot of artists and writers that were mostly known regionally put out some brilliant songs. And thanks to some dedicated collectors, re-issue labels, free form DJs and the internet, they're finally available for those of us willing to find them.

Dayna, a well documented stylistic free spirit, was also attracted to the fact that all those genres were less codified then. " We've gotten awfully rigid about genres now - but back then you picked up strains of regional country in the r&b, and early rock and roll had swing and r&b running through it. And swing from Texas was different than swing from Louisiana or New York. The rules weren't really written yet, and the music was freer for it."

Dayna knows something about musical rule-breaking. Every label that has put out one of her records has to contend with the question that has plagued her career: what kind of music does she make? Dayna is asked this question a lot: "It seems to me that it's odder that people only play one thing, you know? I mean I grew up putting my Stevie Wonder record on after my Led Zeppelin and then singing along to the Broadway cast album for 'South Pacific'. And, lord, now a kid can read about Zaire in school and say, I wonder what the music sounds like there? - And find out in, like, 3 seconds. The fact that some trumpet player in music school is just gonna play 60's bebop for the rest of his life without anything else informing it strikes me as more puzzling."

If there's any doubt as to how great her range is, here's a sampling of the headliners she's been asked to open for or tour with in the past few years: Elvis Costello, Antony & the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Richard Thompson, Richie Havens, Keren Ann, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joe Henry, Blind Boys of Alabama, and Dr. John. Norah Jones and Bonnie Raitt have sung her praises in interviews. Best selling author Steve Almond (Candyfreak) devoted an entire chapter to her in his new book about music obsession, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. ("Listening to Dayna's voice was like a drug. It wasn't just her tone or her range or her power, which, if I knew anything about vocal technique, I could praise at length. No, it was something emotional. Her voice sounded like desperation hurled into the world with exquisite control.")

She continues " I'd rather risk being called a dilettante than be stuck using 2 crayons in the big box, you know? I'm doing the best I can to serve the song. The lyrics sing themselves to me. Some of them want brass band. some of them want a Cajun waltz. some of them want a searing lap steel guitar. Some of them, like most of Secret Canon want long late night sessions with great jazz and blues players, played live to tape. Maybe for the first time, I have a whole record of songs that wanted that. So maybe this one will be easier to file in the record store. If there's any of those left."