Artist Spotlight is a series whose basic aim is to highlight promising and interesting up-and-coming recording artists. From relative newcomers to underrated veterans, from mainstream to underground, we simply want to shine a light on talented musicians that are making great music.
DaniLeigh (pronounced Dani-Lay; real name Danielle Leigh Curiel)
Your introduction to South Florida artist DaniLeigh may have been through the #InMyFeelingsChallenge – a dance craze spawned by Instagram comedian Shiggy which helped popularize Drake’s already-smash-hit single “In My Feelings.” Her viral take on the popular dance craze increased her national profile and following virtually overnight.
Sure enough, DaniLeigh, born Danielle Curiel, began her professional career as a dancer, backing up a slew of stars which include the likes of Pharrell Williams, Jeremih, J. Cole, and Prince. (Yes, you read that right. Prince.) The “Purple Rain” singer is actually responsible for giving Curiel one of her biggest breaks in the music industry to date, randomly tapping the then-18-year-old Dominican dancer, with no prior directorial experience, to write, direct, and star in the music video of his 2013 single “Breakfast Can Wait.”
Despite her experience as a dancer, Curiel’s heart was always in making her own music, determined to move from the background to the forefront and share her own voice with the world. She began branching out into singing/rapping and creating her own music; her efforts eventually got her signed to Def Jam in 2017.
In the fall of 2017, she released her debut Def Jam project Summer With Friends, and this past November, she dropped her debut studio album The Plan; the album spawned the hit single “Lil Bebe”, which remains her biggest single to date.
Why You Should Know Her:
I don’t know about you, but anybody who is as multifaceted as DaniLeigh is — singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, director, etc. — and who has already been co-signed by Prince is worth at least paying attention to. She’s still in the fledgling stage of her music career, but she’s proven within just a couple of years that she has enough musical talent to make it in the industry.
On the artwork of her album The Plan, the word “Versatility” is printed largely in various colors. It’s not a coincidence that it sticks out the most of any other word on the cover (except for the album title, of course); versatility happens to be Curiel’s greatest asset as an artist — and she knows it. In one breath, she’s capable of crafting trap-influenced bangers, like “Lil Bebe” and “Be Yourself,” and in another, she can make hip-hop-influenced R&B jams, like “All I Know” and “Do It To Me.”
And with these songs as the proof, DaniLeigh’s short discography is an amalgamation of some of modern hip-hop/R&B music’s best qualities: a charismatic, dynamic voice behind the mic; catchy, memorable hooks; elite production pretty much across the board; and runtimes that favor replay value.
The best part in all this, though, is that she isn’t even close to reaching her ceiling yet. It will be exciting to see what the near-future holds, as 2019/2020 shape up to be pivotal years in her young musical career.
3 Songs to Get You Started:
“All I Know”
One of Curiel’s first big singles and a standout on her Def Jam debut Summer With Friends, “All I Know” showcases everything there is to like about the Miami artist: sultry vocals, great choreography, and reverence for the greats.
Aside from being a catchy song and DaniLeigh’s biggest musical moment to date, “Lil Bebe” also showcases that innate directorial talent that was undoubtedly spotted and harnessed by Prince.
The opener to her major label debut album, the titular song “The Plan” is a moody trap song in which DaniLeigh details her work ethic and career aspirations.