Joan Jett once said, “My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am.” It’s easy to see and hear this in Dani Wilde’s music. The feeling in her voice along with her emotion-filled guitar playing is a breath of fresh air in the music world today. She’s opened for Johnny Winter, Foreigner, Journey, and has collaborated with Samantha Fish. Dani Wilde is a powerhouse in the Blues world today. She is one of my favorite musicians and someone I believe is making an impact in the art of the Blues.
This is Dani Wilde
Have you always been drawn to The Blues as a musician?
Yes, although I love all music. I was born in the mid 80s and so pop artists like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston really inspired me to become a singer. I also love country music and Americana- artists like Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin. And I really love soul music and Motown- Al Green, Smokie Robinson etc. But I was brought up being taken to lots of blues gigs and festivals. I heard lots of John Lee Hooker and Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters on my dad's hifi at home. When I saw Susan Tedeschi and Sue Foley performing live in the early 2000's I knew that was what I wanted to do. By 2007 I had signed to Ruf Records and was on the same label as some of my heroes Sue Foley, and Eric Bibb.
I’ve noticed many of the guitar players from England don’t use a pick when they play. Starting out, was it a cultural thing for you to play this way or were you looking for a warmer sound that fingerpicking gives you?
Neither, when I was 11, I picked up my brother's acoustic guitar and started to figure out chords and songs. I didn't aspire to be a great guitarist. I wanted to accompany myself singing my favourite songs and to be a songwriter. I started out playing solo gigs in local pubs when I was 13 playing mostly originals and Bob Dylan covers. There were no plectrums in my house nor any other musicians to offer me one, and so I played with fingers and my own style developed. When I was 15 I met bluesman Louisiana Red who also played finger style guitar and he encouraged me to keep playing like this and taught me a thing or two. When I gigged with Girls with guitars, I used a pick occasionally, and when playing back up guitar on Samantha's songs which requires a harder and more heavy rock tone than my own material :)
If it were possible and you could cover any song with the original artist singing along with you, what would it be?
This is such a hard question to answer. In regards to living artists, I would love to work with Van Morrison. I love all of his songs. I play "It stoned me" in my love set. I’d love to sing Tupelo Honey with him. I would've loved to have performed with John Lee Hooker when he was alive... Boom boom boom or Dimples. I love everything about John Lee.
I read you opened for Johnny Winter. I saw him play in 1994 and he put on a flawless performance. How was it to meet and open for such a legend in the Blues world?
It was a dream come true. It was at BB Kings club in Times Square NYC. It meant a lot to me. A week after that show I bumped into Johnny and his band again at a festival in Spain and we opened for them again. They were kind to me… really down to earth yet super talented guys.
Could you tell us a little about your humanitarian work?
Yes, I have visited Kenya many times and have been deeply saddened by the horiffic poverty that children have to endure in the slum communities. On my trips I worked with a wonderful charity called Moving Mountains to build classrooms and provide education and protection for the most vulnerable and poor children. I also fundraise to help Toto Love Orphanage in Embu Kenya. The orphans there have HIV. Some of the kids appear healthy and are doing well in school. Others are clearly very sick. The money we raise at my concerts helps to provide medicine and to cover hospital fees and food for the children. Ruth Ndwiga who runs the orphanage is a wonderful lady who works so hard to keep the orphans safe and loved.
What have you been working on lately, and what would you like for the reader to check out?
I have an album out entitled Live At Brighton Road which was released on Vizztone Records. The album is half electric and half acoustic showcasing the two sides of my music. It can be bought on vinyl and Cd/Dvd. My friend, filmmaker Philip James shot a beautiful video of our live in the studio performances and a video interview with me to accompany the audio recordings. I've recently been on tour in Europe promoting the record. I'm a mum now. I have a beautiful little girl called Poppy, and I took her out on the road with me. It was fantastic fun.
I also have a new single out. A cover of Joni Mitchell's Case of You recorded with my brother Will Wilde on harp. Will and I tour as an acoustic duo called The Wilde's when we are not touring separately with our electric bands. You can find the music video on YouTube.