Rocker Danielia Cotton and her trio will perform at The Loft at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway on Saturday, September 20th at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are just $20 and can be purchased at www.ucpac.org. The concert opens the 2014/2015 season for the on-going Split Level Concert Series which highlights critically acclaimed singer-songwriters in a uniquely intimate setting.
Like her multi-ethnic background, Danielia Cotton's music is a compelling mix of elements: soul, folk, blues, jazz and a whole lot of emotionally powerful, no-nonsense rock and roll.
Pure self-determination and talent got her to a place where she's been chosen to play festivals including Lilith and Sundance, and open for some of the biggest names in rock, R&B and blues including the Allmans, B.B. King, Derek Trucks, Bon Jovi, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Robert Cray.
Cotton was raised in the small western New Jersey town of Hopewell. She never met her Puerto Rican father and was raised, along with three siblings, by her African American/Native American/Caucasian mother. A jazz singer by avocation, her single mom supported the family doing accounting work. They didn't have much, but Cotton's mother made sure her children were well-educated and nurtured through books and music.
Cotton clearly inherited the music gene - her mother exposed her to a wide range of artists, from Nancy Wilson and Bing Crosby to Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt and Jimi Hendrix. But Danielia didn't come to music simply by listening to everything in her house or by mimicking the songs she liked. At the age of 12 her mom gave her an acoustic guitar, a prescient move designed to help a daughter find an emotional and creative outlet. She also started harmonizing with her mom and her aunts in a gospel group, the Brookes Ensemble Plus. Cotton wound up at the top of her high school class, the first to graduate from the New Jersey School of Performing Arts. Her vocal skills earned her a full scholarship to Bennington College, a storied - and costly - school where the arts were emphasized.
Along the way, Cotton, now based in New York, married a restaurateur turned lawyer, a kindred spirit not averse to taking risks. After he'd opened a restaurant in Soho, her husband encouraged Cotton to pursue her music in the same way her mom had - he bought her an electric guitar, beginning a new phase in her career. She started doing gigs at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village, and built her way up from there.
Danielia's tenacity is a gift to us, and in her songs one can indeed hear something rare: an unfettered artist singing out her life story. No sellout, just soul.
Upcoming Split Level Concerts include:
Patty Larkin - October 24th at UCPAC's Hamilton Stage
NYC Songwriter Showcase - October 25th at The Loft at UCPAC
Darden Smith - November 8th at The Loft at UCPAC
Lucy Kaplansky - November 29th at UCPAC's Hamilton Stage
Jen Chapin Trio - December 6th at The Loft at UCPAC
Lisa Bouchelle with special guest Luke Elliot - December 31st at UCPAC's Hamilton Stage
For a full listing of shows, visit www.ucpac.org.