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The Dana Fuchs Story…as told by Dana…
Seems the future holds a lot of mystery & excitement for me. Last year, I saw so much of the world, traveling far and wide to play music and now I’ve just signed my first record deal with Ruf Records to release my 2nd studio album “Love to Beg” in February. I can’t wait for the world to hear the new CD and I can’t wait to bring it to life onstage with my incredible band.
I’m very proud of our new record. Together with my music partner Jon Diamond, we faced the challenge of trying to capture the live energy we’re known for, while breaking out of that “on stage” comfort zone to experiment with the boundless potential that a studio environment, amazing musicians and a great engineer provides. Self-producing this body of work together was a daunting prospect, but it was also incredibly liberating – AND fun!
The album’s vibe really captures all of our influences of Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rock and even hints of old school country. Most of the songs we wrote on the road and had barely played live, which actually allowed those songs to go where they needed with no preconceived notions. For instance, the title track “Love To Beg” was initially a ballad. I wrote it based on an experience with a long lost best friend, and then it morphed into a love song as I began to shape the lyrics in the studio. Once we started laying it down with the band, it took on a rockin’ Black Crowes sort of vibe and both the story lines merged. Same thing with “Set It On Fire” which was at first a tortured love song filled with deception and infidelity coupled with the challenge of monogamy! Once we tracked it and listened back we were bored to tears! That’s when our dear friend, musician and co-producer, Kenny Aaronson plugged in the bass at 1am, after our bassist Whynot had left, and said: “LET’S ROCK THIS F*CKER!” From there, “Set It On Fire” took on a whole new life in the vein of our favorite old Rolling Stones stuff.
Overall, the album is really about love … all kinds of love. Angry love, jealous love, tortured love, brotherly love, sisterly love and self love. Hence the title “Love To Beg”.
There’s only one cover song on the record. A song I’ve fantasized about singing for many years by my favorite male soul vocalist in the world, Otis Redding. The song is called “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)”. When I was 21, Jon showed me a film of Otis performing this song at The Monterey Pop Festival. I felt sick with emotion and an unrelenting desire to sing my heart out just like Otis did. I vowed someday I’d become a strong enough singer to try and do this song justice. I hope I did!
Honestly, we recorded this collection of songs for our selves and our fans. We weren’t thinking about having a 3-minute song with “hooks”, or worrying about the dark nature of the lyrics. We just trusted our own musical instincts and let it rip. Now, I’ll tell you a little bit about where those instincts came from…
I grew up the youngest of six musical kids in a small Southern town near the Florida Panhandle.
In order we’re; Don, Donna, Dan, David, Doug & Dana! My father “Donald” did this to us!
We didn’t have much money and often didn’t have enough. What we DID have was the bond of music, some beat up guitars, coffee cans and wooden spoons, which did the trick for our all day jam sessions.
My oldest brother Don, and my sister Donna started the music craze in our house during their teens with a popular working band. Our entire living room became a “music” room and it was my job, starting at the age of 7, to transcribe lyrics for them. I learned words to songs most parents would never let their children hear! ☺
This is when I began to fall in love with the power of music.
Then one Sunday I was taken to a black Baptist church on the “wrong” side of town where I heard the real deal gospel and joined in with the choir. When a big, beautiful, black woman said to me, “Let Mama Music takeover!” I knew I had no choice.
So at 16, I began fronting a popular bar band made up of men 3 times my age. My life changed forever. Rather than slumber parties and mall hangs, I spent every weekend night NOT with my teenage friends, but with their parents.
When I was 19, I knew a life in music and performing was what I wanted and I knew I’d never find it in a small town. So I took a ride up North with a girl I barely knew and her mom. They fought in Italian the entire 2-day trip as I sat crammed in the back with their luggage. I had one suitcase and almost $500.
I arrived in Fort Lee, NJ - as close to NYC as I could get - took a job in a sandwich shop and rode the bus to NYC every week to audition for bands. That first year, I saved enough money to move to the Lower East Side of NYC.
Around the corner from my new pad was a blues club and one night I was lured in by the most woeful, powerful guitar playing I’d ever heard. On stage was my soon-to-be best friend, music partner and co-writer, Jon Diamond.
I introduced myself to Jon as the band took a break and told him that I came to NYC to sing the blues. He invited me to do just that on the next set! Afterward, he told me I had a powerful instrument but that I needed to study all the great artists who inspired the legends I was familiar with like; Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, Joe Cocker, etc. Jon told me to study the people THEY studied. So that’s what I did.
Within a year we were playing the NYC scene with a vengeance and selling out all the popular blues clubs. I was also battling some serious demons, which took me on a long, dark path as I struggled to keep the music going.
One fateful day, I received a call from my sister’s boyfriend that she had taken her life in their little NJ cottage by the lake. My sister went up North long before I did to live the very dream I’m finally living. After her death, I knew I had no choice but to get help and take the music to the next level – a spiritual one – and I don’t mean religion!
The universe agreed. Soon thereafter, I was handed the role of a lifetime – playing Janis Joplin every night off Broadway. I‘ve always drawn comparisons to Janis, but I’d never studied or listened to her before this play. Only by doing this role did I learn how otherworldly her talent was. I also learned that we had exactly the same influences, as by now I had been immersing myself in all the great singers: Mavis Staples, Otis Redding, Etta James, Esther Philips, and on and on…
By now, I was singing everyday and night … either playing Janis Joplin in the theater, or doing my thing in the nearby clubs. This really shaped me as a singer and performer and now I was ready to hit the road!
Then out of the blue, I got an email from Julie Taymor, who had been at a duo acoustic show I did with Jon the night before. Julie had an idea after my performance to write a lead role for me in her film “Across The Universe”. While I’ve always loved acting, music has remained my truest passion. Occasionally, you find yourself getting the best of both worlds!
Rehearsing, recording the soundtrack and filming ATU was one of the most extraordinary 18 months of my life. Meeting and working with 2 of my favorite singers in the world, Bono & Joe Cocker was a dream I kept thinking I’d awaken from. It wasn’t until last June, when I shared the stage with Joe Cocker in Bonn, Germany that I knew it was all way too real.
Now here I am, about to tour the world with a great label behind me and take what I call “The Rock & Roll Church of Love” on the road all over the world!
That’s my mission – to channel Mama Music & sing in the name of Love, Joy and Peace!
Like I say at my shows, "It doesn’t matter what you believe in: God, Buddha, Mohammed, etc … just believe in the love of it all and not man’s deadly interpretation. We need each other. We’re in this love together.”
I’m so grateful for this opportunity to continue dedicating every show to my late sister Donna and my brave oldest brother Don, who both gave me the gift of music. I’m also grateful to all of you for helping me live it.
I look forward to stomping, sweating, crying, laughing and rocking with you all.
Peace and Love,
To learn more about Dana Fuchs visit her website: danafuchs.com