Danielia Cotton’s music is not . . . relaxed, mellow, sweet, or similar to anything else that’s out there.
Each throat-searing track on Danielia’s new CD, Small White Town, showcases the shocking, raw power of her voice. These are sheerly emotional songs—they hide nothing, they compromise nothing. From the guitar-driven blues force of "Devil in Disguise" to the aching dreams of freedom that haunt "4 A Ride"—every moment of Small White Town testifies to the fact that music is not merely Danielia’s talent. It’s her deepest calling.
Danielia loved rock from early on: as a little girl in rural Hopewell, New Jersey (truly a "small white town"), she escaped into her backyard, with a branch for a microphone, and belted it out to the trees.
Her love of rock crystallized a few years later, the moment she wrapped her hands around her first electric guitar, a Fender Tele, and she taught herself to play. "An electric guitar can sound painful," she says. "It can sound bright. Playing it is like putting on makeup for the first time: you start to live in a different world."
So who is Danielia? Growing up as one of only seven black kids in Hopewell Valley High School, she was not exposed to R&B and hip-hop. "I liked AC/DC, Judas Priest, Todd Rundgren," she remembers. She is the product of all kinds of musical influences. Raised by her mother, a gifted jazz singer, Danielia never knew her father. She often heard her mother and two aunts sing as a trio at church. Along with her growing love for rock, Danielia developed a warm appreciation for jazz and gospel.
Feeling like an outsider in her small town drove Danielia closer to rock and roll, at first as a listener, but soon afterwards as someone who dreamed of creating music. Danielia began to learn how to strum chords on an acoustic guitar and started to write her first songs. The time had come to step out of that back yard.
Danielia moved to NYC and gave herself fully to music. She established herself as a regular at the Bitter End. Word began to spread. More gigs filled her calendar: Arlene Grocery, Fez, the Cutting Room, the Sidewalk Café, CB’s Gallery...
And then the time came to capture her music on disc. Kevin Salem, an outstanding guitarist and songwriter, agreed to produce Danielia’s first album. Impressed by Kevin’s work with Chocolate Genius, Danielia sensed that he would be a dynamic studio partner. "His production has such a depth and feel. Harmonically, I knew he would get me."
WXPN, in Philadelphia, tagged Danielia as one of their top "artists to watch" in 2005 and slotted the song "It’s Only Life" into heavy rotation. Press raves sprouted online and in print, lauding Danielia’s "bluesy voice, her soulful guitar work and cover-girl face"; touting her as "the next big thing"; and concluding that "once in a while. . . ..talent outstrips the hype, as in the case of Danielia Cotton."
With the arrival of Small White Town, reviewers will fish for comparisons to such iconic powerhouses as Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. As the Philadelphia Daily Local News has already proclaimed, Danielia’s music has the "swagger of ‘Let It Bleed’-era Rolling Stones." Those comparisons place a heavy load on an artist who may share similarities with the giants to but who ultimately is unique.
"Small White Town is me," she says simply. "It’s a reflection of my love for rock and roll." And for those who believe in the magic of rock and roll, Small White Town shows us that a new sorceress has arrived.