Charismatic Australian performer Dannielle DeAndrea has forged a career in Hollywood which has taken her from wedding singer to an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with American singers Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.
In June, she will touch down on home soil and perform at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival with The SongBirds.
The harmony trio – which includes Gaby Moreno and Erica Canales – was invited here by festival artistic director Barrie Humphries after sold-out shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sydney. They perform original music and vintage classics, as well as giving their own twist to famous Australian songs.
“We’re about to release our Australian EP and are so thrilled to be a part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Barry Humphries is curating,” DeAndrea told InDaily.
“Being an Aussie, I grew up with Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson, so it’s particularly exciting for me.”
The SongBirds was formed after DeAndrea moved to Los Angeles from Sydney in 2007. Finding it difficult to get work, she auditioned for a wedding band advertised online, which is how she met fellow singers Moreno and Canales.
“I gave it a year of singing tunes like ‘I’m Coming Out’ and ‘I Will Survive’, then Gaby was fired (which is crazy, ’cause she’s one of the greatest singers on the planet and even won a Grammy), then Erica left the band (she was lead singer) and we all decided we should do something together.”
She says carpooling with Moreno and listening to harmony group The Boswell Sisters inspired them to form their own trio and bring back sounds from the 1920s and ’30s.
“We got together and learnt a tune called ‘Shout Sister Shout’ by The Boswell Sisters, realised we sounded great together, and The SongBirds were formed.”
DeAndrea has also enjoyed plenty of solo success overseas, with three top-40 UK Soul Chart hits. Her vocals can be heard on releases by other artists such as Sting, Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys, and she recently sang back-up vocals for Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“I got to shake Ellen’s hand, so was a bit beside myself,” she says. “Wiz was lovely, [but I] only got a quick hello – he kinda whizzed past.
“It’s on my bucket list to one day perform either solo or with The SongBirds on Ellen’s show.”
Khalifa and Puth performed their hit song “See You Again”, from Fast & Furious 7, as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.
“I got the call the night before, went to rehearse on set the next day and it sounded amazing,” DeAndrea says. “It was a beautiful tribute to Paul Walker.”
Her fellow SongBirds members also have strong solo careers.
Moreno, from Guatemala, was nominated for an Emmy for composing the theme song for US sitcom Parks and Recreation and won the Latin Grammy award for Best New Artist in 2013. At just 16, Canales was one of the youngest members of the San Diego Opera chorus and in 2014 she was asked to sing back-up vocals for the George Harrison Tribute concert in Los Angeles.
“I love them – they have great voices and no ego, so we can be honest with each other,” DeAndrea says. “We are all strong personalities but it totally works.
“I love that we are all solo artists in our own right, each with our own sound, but when we come together we blend like nothing else. It’s a special and powerful thing.”
During their Shout Sister Shout shows, each SongBird will sing one or two songs solo, with DeAndrea to preview something from my upcoming solo album, Sequins On A Sunday Afternoon.
The group’s tour Down Under will also coincide with the release of a SongBirds Australian-themed EP in which they give their own twist to tunes such as “Physical”, by Olivia Newton John; “Forever Now”, by Cold Chisel; and “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters and Collectors.
The SongBirds will perform Shout Sister Shout in the Adelaide Festival’s Banquet Room on June 19-20 as part of the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
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