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Interview With Rising Star Dana Williams

By Dontaira Terrell
Posted On Jan 01, 2016
Interview With Rising Star Dana Williams

Known for making the eclectic musical covers of today’s hottest artists including, Fetty Wap, Rihanna and Lana del Ray, singer-songwriter and overall innovative musical creator Dana Williams, has continuously solidified her groundbreaking status as the Queen of Jazz. Undoubtedly she has lived up to and surpassed widespread comparisons of being deemed as the modern day Ella Fitzgerald. Additionally, her versatility extends far beyond traditional jazz tunes, varying from soul, pop to alternative, evident throughout her latest EP, “Let’s Fall.”

From starring in the Holiday Apple ad to cementing her status as one of the top four contestants on ABC’s “Rising Star,” being predestined for success is an understatement. The songstress talents have been cultivated from previous generations as she comes from a long lineage of musical marvels, dating back to her father, David Williams. Known for extending his guitar playing talents to such superstars as Madonna and the late greats Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

New You had an opportunity to chitchat with Ms. Williams about her love affair with music, upcoming projects, and the three elements of creating a heartfelt, infectious groove.


You and Leighton Meester are frequent collaborators, what is the energy like when you get together and record?
It’s really a chill energy. I’ve known her for so long that over a series of time we’ve talked about what songs would be cool to cover. We usually have one rehearsal where we’ll practice it together and try to figure out who will sing what [parts]. When it’s time to record we play it a few times and do everything live. It’s honestly one of the easiest collaborations, musical things that I do because it’s so much fun.


If you had to choose your favorite cover that you’ve done so far [in general] which would it be and why?
I believe right now, I’ve been doing a lot of covers and one of my favorite ones I put out this year aside from the Leighton [Meester] “Blue Christmas,” is “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap because I think it was kind of a cool spin on the song.


What are some of your feelings when you’re putting out a project? Are you fearful of what the fans may think or are you excited to hear of their reactions?
I generally try not to think about it too much or else I’ll just overthink it but it’s usually a combination of reluctance and excitement. I believe the most important thing when putting something out is to be confident in what you’re doing otherwise people will see that you are doubting it. I think that I’ve been really happy to put out my new content and I’m excited for what’s to come. Although it’s always a feeling, “what if someone doesn’t like this,” at the end of the day you can’t always please everyone.


When did your love affair with music begin?
It started when I was really very young because I come from a musical family. My dad was a musician so I was always around music and I always knew that I wanted to pursue music to some capacity. I just didn’t know if it was going to be production, writing or performing.


I actually read that your dad worked with the late Michael Jackson, is this true?
Yes, he was Michael Jackson’s guitar player.


Did that have an effect or influence any of your creativity, songwriting or overall musical abilities?
I think it was definitely a huge privilege to be around that at such a young age. It most definitely influenced me to pursue a career in music just being around it and watching how immensely music can move and affect people. I kind of wanted to do the same thing.

It helped to be around such amazing music all the time but I would say my dad taught me how to really write a song. I wouldn’t compare what I do to what my dad did because it is very different. He worked a lot within the pop world and I create folk, soul, and alternative music so it is very different but it also influenced me very much.


As a songwriter what are the three most important factors into creating a great song?
• Conveying a clear feeling that other people can relate to.
• Creating something that’s easy and simple to listen to.
• Formulating something people can easily sing along to.
Not saying I do these things all of the time (laughs). One thing I have learned is to keep it simple as possible because I have the tendency to overcomplicate things.


What fuels your passion for singing?
What really fuels my passion for singing is the way it makes me feel. I believe everyone should have something in their life that makes them feel happy, loved or inspired. I believe music and singing do that because it takes me to another place. It’s almost like meditating, similar to a euphoric feeling for me and I just really love doing it [singing and creating music].


How does it feel to be deemed a modern day Ella Fitzgerald?
That is actually one of the highest praises I could have ever hoped to attain. I think it’s really sweet people are saying that! Honestly, she’s been my idol since I can remember. I’ve always listened to her music, loved her voice and looked up to her as a songwriter so it’s really flattering.


What’s next for you?
I’ve been making videos and as you may know, I’ve been putting out a lot of covers lately. Every week I put out a new cover for people to take a look at what I’ve been up to. I have new videos coming out that are more related to my EP (official videos not covers) and I’m really excited for those!