A Shuswap artist is breaking into the country music scene with her debut album, claiming the top spot on iTunes.
Dani Strong, who graduated from Salmon Arm Secondary in 2000, had tears in her eyes when she saw the results on iTunes. Her album was #1 on the country charts after being released Oct. 20.
“It was never expected. Honestly it was like the furthest, furthest, thing from expected, not in a million years,” she said.
Sitting at #1 on iTunes is a major switch from what Strong remembers of 2015.
She had almost given up on her album, Time to Breathe, before she found out someone had stolen one of her tracks and sold it for four years without her knowledge.
The incident sparked a fire that allowed her to complete the album that she had been working on for the last 10 years.
Time to Breathe is a lighthearted country mix, focusing on the positive aspect of Strong’s journey creating the album and on the nature of B.C.
She described the album as upbeat and positive, saying there’s too much negativity in the world.
“It was our journey kind of coming to an end. For this to be my first record at 34 years old, the road has been long and it has not been paved,” she said.
Strong and her husband, Grant Taylor, former drummer for The Salads, took a chance, taking out a line of credit against their house to release the album, she said.
The album was independently released; Strong wasn’t afraid to go against the pressures she felt with the music industry.
She also wrote a song that carried male vocals, which people were opposed to, but she wanted a love song as a serenade to herself from her husband’s perspective.
“I wrote all these lyrics that would make my heart melt,” she laughed.
Her love of music started at a young age and doesn’t end with the country genre.
Strong played trombone for years in school, even getting into York University with the instrument.
Neither of her parents play musical instruments, but her grandmother was a “conservative” pianist, and her grandfather could play by ear. She remembers sitting by the piano with them as a young girl on the farm, she said.
“Salmon Arm was my life, man, I loved it,” she said.
Her heart lies in the Shuswap and with song writing.
“When I write… it’s just what comes out of me. I love scenery, I’m influenced by what my heart feels.”
She spent her childhood in White Lake on a farm, attending Carlin Elementary and was valedictorian for her SAS grad class.
She misses the mountains, even having a song named after them, and dreams to one day be an official song writer.
Time to Breathe was released on her father’s birthday.
A daddy’s girl, the song Pumpkin is a special tune. The song was titled after her father’s pet name for her.
“Daddy called me Pumpkin, no matter how old I am,” she said.
Now, Strong lives in Barrie, Ontario, close to family members.
It’s on the water, not on the mountains, but she said she’ll settle for a lake.
In her spare time, she has a band with Taylor, which plays corporate performances and weddings.
She also looks after her son, Mickey, seven, and daughter Dotty, four.
They’ll be hitting the road early 2017 and plan to perform in Salmon Arm.