Rock legend Dion calls Danielle Nicole “one of the greatest singers on the planet.” Danielle refers to him as “so cool.” Danielle’s third solo album, The Love You Bleed, has just been released. And Dion’s latest album, Girl Friends, drops March 8th. The two duet on “I Aim to Please.”
Danielle Nicole was a teenager when she was in Trampled Under Foot with her two brothers. They came to public attention as International Blues Challenge winners. Danielle is a mature mother now with two children, and the songs on her album take an eyes-wide-open look at the realities of her personal life over and above that of a rock bass player who fronts a band that measures some get-down rock against lyrics that don’t blink when it comes to the realities, for instance, of being the mother. She explains, “I write about my personal experiences and stuff.” See my interview in American Blues Scene.
Girl Friends is Dion’s third album in recent years exploding with new creativity continuing a storied career that now touches eight decades. He kicked off this decade with 2020’s Blues With Friends and followed with 2021’s Stomping Ground. Two tracks with accompanying videos have been released earlier and are now streaming: “Soul Force” with Susan Tedeschi and “An American Hero” with Carlene Carter. Dion’s other collaborators on the album are Rory Block, Shemekia Copeland, Debbie Davies, Randi Fishenfeld, Sue Foley, Christine Ohlman, Maggie Rose, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Valerie Tyson.
In one of the more amazing coincidences of my career, Dion just happened to call Danielle while I was interviewing her on the phone. We had been talking about him just as he called. I had told her that he was probably my favorite interview of all time, and how much I admired him for reinventing himself in a stellar career that started with “The Wanderer” almost seven decades ago. She said that she loved cutting the song with him. I stayed on hold while she talked to him. She came back on, and we continued the conversation.
So, what did he say? I asked when she came back on the line. “It was funny. Obviously, we had just been talking about him for a while. He goes – ok, he redid his vocal, and then he just sent me a message. ‘I would like to do a video on this,’ and what he’s been doing is like the video of Susan (Tedeshi) just a little bit ago where somebody records him, and then she did her part and they edited it together.
“I was at home this last week and set up a camera in the music room and sang along with the song to give him a little video so they could edit together for the release, and he just called to tell me, ‘I gotta share this with you. You did this to me again.’ I was like, ‘Well, what do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘You put so much energy into the video.’ He goes, ‘I had to scrap all eight videos that I did to match (what you recorded) to give it some movement and match our energy.’”
Dion and I talked about his collaborations with other artists in 2022. “I think one of the most beautiful things about the last two albums is that I’ve never felt so embraced by the musical community,” he told me. “I’ve always felt a part of the community like I belong in some way, but I’ve never felt in the middle of it, right? Right now, I feel like I’m in the middle of it being embraced.
“I truly believe God placed a creative gene in all of us. Some people – I don’t know – they ignore it, or like people say to me, ‘How come you’re still doing this.? You know? I’ve been given a gift, and you just like to hone it and use it and not make it rot away. What am I gonna do, retire and let it rust? It’s crazy. It’s insane. So, I wanna use it kinda for God’s glory. And people – people enjoy it, and you connect. Like we’re making – you know, the last album was called Blues with Friends. I think all of us that are making music are making new friends.”
Dion is 85. I will be 80 next month. He is an inspiration to me.