DaniLeigh was born knowing her purpose in life and put it into practice at an early age.. As a singer, DaniLeigh reaches millions of people around the world every day, and her breezy lyrics instantly uplift those who hear them. “I felt like I [always] knew what I wanted to do with my life, and that’s to inspire people,” DaniLeigh says. The singer commemorated this with her first tattoo, which reads “Inspired to Inspire.” But even before DaniLeigh could legally go under the needle, she was already on her way to inspiration.
DaniLeigh grew up in a Dominican household, where loud music was always playing. Her mother encouraged her to take classes in voice and piano as a child, but as a teenager, dance was the career path she saw for herself. Her dedication to singing came later on, as it wasn’t always something she was confident in. “At 14, my mom had a restaurant and I would be in the back on the computer doing YouTube covers all the time,” DaniLeigh says. “It was in my own little world because no one knew that I loved to sing as much as I did.”
Two years later, DaniLeigh made the decision to leave her life in Florida to pursue a career as a backup dancer in Los Angeles. She signed to a dance agency and quickly began booking music videos, as well as commercials. Immersed in the entertainment capital of the world, DaniLeigh grew comfortable with herself as a singer, and while it was her desire to dance that brought her to L.A., her true passion came through her voice. “I met my producer Johnny at 18, and that’s when I made the studio my home,” DaniLeigh says. “That’s when I really found passion in being an artist. Dancing was cool, but I really wanted to do music, have a message, and be my own boss.”
Like many singers trying to break through, DaniLeigh began showcasing her songs online, hoping that one of her videos would catch the attention of the right person. The tactic itself is unremarkable; what makes her story so unique is the man whose attention she caught—Prince. “He found me online, reached out, and that was that,” DaniLeigh says. “He said, ‘I want you to write a treatment for this song and direct it.’ He gave me a full budget and that’s how it happened.” DaniLeigh was given complete creative control of Prince’s video for “Breakfast Can Wait,” and the project became the first chapter of a mentorship between DaniLeigh and the High Priest of Pop. “I learned a lot from him,” she says. “He definitely taught me a lot about the industry in the beginning. There had been labels reaching out to me and he always told me to be careful who I signed to and to own your stuff.”
With Prince in her corner, DaniLeigh controlled her own destiny, and shortly after signing to Def Jam, she released her first EP,“Summer With Friends.” “At that time, I was definitely new to the industry, so it was cool to put out something that had a lot of different vibes to it to see what people rocked with the most,” DaniLeigh says. “It was my first EP, so it was really cool being able to create a project and put it together.” The next year, DaniLeigh put out her first full-length album, “The Plan.” She used this body of work to show listeners a different, more evolved side of herself. “My mindset was super boss-type, let’s get it and let me focus on the plan,” DaniLeigh says. “‘Summer With Friends’ was more fun and ‘The Plan’ was more serious in the sense of the topic. But I still carried on with the versatility in both projects, having different vibes and showing everyone each side of me.”
By 2019, DaniLeigh stepped out of her mentor’s shadow to truly come into her own as an R&B artist. While she didn’t release an album last year, she gained the attention of the mainstream by collaborating with some of the biggest names in the game—starting with Chris Brown. “With Chris Brown, I was in the studio with him and we were playing back-and-forth with the aux,” DaniLeigh says. “I was showing him all the new stuff I was working on and he was showing me everything he was working on. He was like, ‘Dang, you don’t have one bad song. Every song you’ve got flows.’ I played him ‘Easy’ and he was like, ‘Oh, this is a hit, let me get on this right now. Pull it up.’” Simply by vibing to each other’s work, the two created a platinum-selling single.
Just like how each of her songs on “The Plan” is a little different, showcasing her versatility, DaniLeigh has proven that she approaches collaborations in the same manner. Each track deserves its own unique approach. For her track with G-Eazy, all DaniLeigh had to do was text him the song “Cravin’” and he replied back with his verse. With PartyNextDoor, they created their single together in the studio, building the track as a team. And when it came to putting together “Levi High” with DaBaby, it was her moves that got her in with the chart-topping rapper. “With DaBaby, we built a friendship and did his choreography for the ‘Bop’ video,” DaniLeigh says. “It was dope and we definitely vibed on that set. Then, when I played him ‘Levi High,’ that song was already done and he wanted to hop on it.”
Her voice propelled her to fame, but DaniLeigh hasn’t forgotten the passion that brought her to L.A. in the first place. Choreography comes second nature to her, and while she may not choreograph 100 percent of her own videos, she always gives her input. For her video with DaBaby, she was in the driver’s seat, and with dozens of backup dancers on set, she needed something that would make a big impression without being too chaotic. “I definitely know how to groove, that’s my main thing,” DaniLeigh says. “When I did ‘Bop,’ I peeped how DaBaby had little signature moves and I knew that there were going to be so many people in the video. Even though it was super simple, having so many people made it look bigger.”
Following a whirlwind year of successful singles, DaniLeigh promises that an album is coming in 2020. In the two years since her last project, DaniLeigh has taken the time to put together a body of work that tells a story from start to finish and she admits it’s her best work yet. “It starts with some 2000s R&B vibes, then I’ve got some bops, girl anthems that I think all of my girls will relate to, and then it turns into a party where you want to turn it up,” DaniLeigh says. “It will get you in your feelings, both good and bad. There’s definitely a transition between being in love, being hurt, having a ‘fuck you’ type of attitude, and then being sad again. You can relate to it all because everyone goes through these things.”
While we don’t have a name or know when her album will drop, based on her track record, her connections in hip-hop and her excitement about it, we know it will be making major waves on the charts. In fact, DaniLeigh puts this album up there with her most successful single when it comes to her body art. “I just got a tattoo that says, ‘Take it easy.’ It’s from my biggest song,” DaniLeigh says. “And I’m definitely going to get my next album tatted on me.”