This week, the powerfully soulful singer was named 2019’s best Contemporary Blues Female Artist at the Blues Foundation Blue Music Awards in Memphis, along with best Instrumentalist Bass. Earlier in the year, she received a Grammy nomination for her second solo album, “Cry No More.”
“It’s been an insane journey in a short amount of time,” Danielle Nicole told Tahoe Onstage Friday as she traveled to a show at Knob Noster in her home state Missouri.
“I never was nominated as Female Artist before and I wasn’t expecting to receive any of the awards with the amazing list of people that were up, so I was totally humbled.”
She is among three 2019 BMA recipients who will perform at this summer’s Tuesday Bluesdays at Squaw Valley, California. Sugaray Rayford was named the top Soul Blues Male Artist and Vanessa Collier won for Instrumentalist Horn. It will be the Bluesdays debut for all three performers.
“(Bluesdays fans) are in for a treat with those artists,” Danielle Nicole said. “Vanessa is a multi-instrumentalist and everything about her is absolutely beautiful: Her personality, the way she connects to the audience, her tone, her attack. It’s hard not to get captivated by her playing and her intimacy. She’s such a young talent who has a bright future ahead.
“Sugaray Rayford is a force of nature. I’ve been able to be on a few shows with him. He is a blues machine. His show is amazing and he’s a great performer.”
While Daniele Nicole’s solo career is making a fast ascent, she has been on blues fans’ radar for a while. Her family band, Trampled Under Foot, with brothers Nick (guitar) and Kris (drums) Schnebelen won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in 2007.
The trio from Kansas City released five albums, including “Badlands,” which won the BMA for 2014 Contemporary Blues Album. Shortly afterward, the siblings ended the group.
“We had our time together with Trampled Under Foot and it was just natural,” she said.
In 2015, she released a highly acclaimed solo album, “Wolf Den,” which was straight-ahead blues in style. Produced by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars,“Wolf Den” was named Blues Album of the Year by Blues & Soul Magazine and selected New Artist Debut Album by Blues Blast Magazine.
“I always search out great singers to work with, like John Hiatt, Mavis Staples, Patty Griffin, Chris Robinson,” Dickinson said. “You really have to have a great singer to take music to a place where we all want to go.”
Afterward, Dickinson recruited Danielle Nicole to join he and his brother Cody in the North Mississippi Allstars for a year. “She’s a superstar,” he said.
Her follow-up album, “Cry No More,” debuted in February 2018 at No. 1 on Billboard’s Blues chart. It ranges from blues to rock to pop. It received a Grammy Award nomination.
“That was definitely an affirmation,” she said. “It was really cool to know that people on that level are not only aware of my music, they dig it.
“Every transition has been drastically different in the last couple of years. We’ve had a great last few months I am getting a new sound going on. I am getting ready to get back in the studio again and I’m excited about that. It’s always great to be moving and always be fluid and different and not get stagnant.”
By the looks of her itinerary, it’s a surprise the word stagnant is even in Danielle Nicole’s vocabulary. Her trio (guitarist Brandon Miller, drummer Ralph Forrest) just completed a whirlwind tour in April and begins a string of appearances in Europe, including festivals in Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, in June. United States summer festivals include Lighthouse, Kalamazoo, Heritage, Chernango and Ann Arbor.
Daniel Nicole was the first female to receive a BMA nomination for Instrumentalist Bass. She’s won the honor two of the three times she’s been nominated. She now has four BMAs, including one she received with Trampled Under Foot.
On Saturday, she will perform her first outdoor show at Kansas City in two years when the trio plays at Knuckleheads Saloon.
— Tim Parsons
- Blues Foundation’s 2019 Blues Music Awards
- Acoustic Album: Journeys to the Heart of the Blues – Joe Louis Walker/Bruce Katz/Giles Robson
2. Acoustic Artist: Rory Block
3. Album: America’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
4. B.B. King Entertainer: Michael Ledbetter
5. Band: Welch-Ledbetter Connection
6. Best Emerging Artist Album: Free – Amanda Fish
7. Blues Rock Album: The Big Bad Blues – Billy F Gibbons
8. Blues Rock Artist: Eric Gales
9. Contemporary Blues Album: America’s Child – Shemekia Copeland
10. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Danielle Nicole
11. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Kenny Neal
12. Instrumentalist-Bass: Danielle Nicole
13. Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside
14. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Monster Mike Welch
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Dennis Gruenling
16. Instrumentalist-Horn: Vanessa Collier
17. Instrumentalist- Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball
18. Instrumentalist-Vocals: Michael Ledbetter
19. Song: “No Mercy In This Land” Written By Ben Harper and Performed by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite
20. Soul Blues Album: I’m Still Around – Johnny Rawls
21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Annika Chambers
22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Sugaray Rayford
23. Traditional Blues Album: The Blues is Alive and Well – Buddy Guy
24. Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female Artist: Ruthie Foster
25. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Nick Moss
6 -8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
The Village at Squaw Valley
June 11 — The Blues Monsters
June 18 — Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
June 25 — Vanessa Collier
July 2 — Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Revue featuring Rusty Zinn
July 9 — Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
July 16 — Danielle Nicole
July 23 — Coco Montoya
July 30 — Chris Cain
Aug. 6 — Sugar Ray Rayford
Aug. 13 — Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers
Aug. 20 — Dennis Jones Band
Aug. 27 — Honey Island Swamp Band
Sept. 3 — Popa Chubby