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New Music Weekly


April 1-15, 2008


The Legend of Danielle Egnew: Myth or Mega Talent?

By Jason Denney


In an endless sea of entertainment mediocrity that regularly exonerates attitude-swinging blank slates, Danielle Egnew is an overwhelming creative cyclone, an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. To label this Montana native-turned-Hollywood-hottie as a "triple threat" would be too limiting. Egnew is a multi-talent power player in entertainment, being named by Curve Magazine as one of the Ten Most Powerful Lesbians in Music for 2007. Danielle Egnew met with me for lunch at Hugo’s wearing a fresh Rocky Mountain radiance. She was a delicate balance of direct, sincere, and quirky, which gave her a silly but sexy angle, something that was a nice surprise.

Danielle first broke out in the mid-nineties singing, playing and writing with all-girl band Pope Jane. Critics in the USA and abroad heralded the band as "the sound of the new Indie movement", praising not only Danielle Egnew’s powerful vocal abilities, but her producer chops. Pope Jane was the Indie shot that was heard around the world. Through years of independent rock stardom, touring, radio play, and strong independent album sales, Danielle Egnew and Pope Jane broke into the Los Angeles scene in 2002 with rave reviews. Then, while mere inches from scoring the record deal of a lifetime after being approached by MCA, Maverick, and Dreamworks Music Division, a failing record industry dealt Danielle Egnew and Pope Jane a crushing blow by downsizing. Labels and staff were bought, traded, and sold, and the little Indie-band-that-could remained just that, standing still and strong while the dust settled.

The disappointment of watching nine years worth of hard work spiral down the major labels’ financial toilet would send most anyone packing to the local booby hatch. But Danielle Egnew picked herself up and dusted herself off. Was her music career over? "Of course not," exclaimed Egnew, "it just meant that we weren’t going to get signed. At least, not right then. We still had all our fans all over the world. I mean, sure, it was horrible, and it was disappointing. Everyone had spent so much money to come out here [to Los Angeles]."

In 2004, a tough decision was made by the band for Pope Jane to take a well-earned hiatus. Drummer Kristen Coyner headed to Seattle to finish pursuing her college degree, and Danielle stayed behind in the entertainment trenches of Los Angeles. "It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as an adult, to just stand on the curb on Burbank Boulevard and watch Kristen drive off. We hadn’t had more than a week apart in twelve years. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able do it here without her, but I just didn’t feel finished in LA yet…" Egnew got emotional but trailed off to a laugh.

Egnew’s persistence paid off. In 2007 she won Best Keyboardist at the All Access Music Awards in Hollywood, as well as two nominations, Best Female Rock Vocalist and Best Overall Songwriter. 2007 also brought an endorsement from Minarik Guitars as well as an endorsement from Scoop Straps, a custom instrument strap company.

Danielle Egnew kicked off 2008 by signing an unprecedented multi-tiered deal record deal with Maurice The Fish Records, a label exclusively run by women. Rather than making Egnew choose between her various successful projects in different genes, she negotiated a deal where the label produces and markets each of her projects. Danielle Egnew achieved the unthinkable feat of obtaining four record deals at once. Her first album to be released is a solo project entitled Red Lodge, which according to Egnew, is her "stripped-back acoustic ode" to her favorite small Montana town. Egnew produces and plays everything on the album, ranging from guitar, mandolin, violin, bass, percussion, piano, Tibetan Bowls, penny whistle, drums, and even a recorder.

Now signed, Egnew is planning to make headway in 2008 recording with a reunited Pope Jane, who on June 21st in Billings, Montana will be playing the first reunion show in seven years with the original line-up: Kristen Coyner on drums, Holly (Hoagland) Shawver on bass with Danielle on lead mic and guitar. And finally, the ambitious Egnew is hoping to finish her album for the alt rock project Junkie Cousin, formed in 2006 with guitarist Paul Houston, including Rich Vaccaro on bass and Pam Jacobs on drums.

In the meantime, Egnew, who carried scholarships in college for acting, landed a starring role in the film Changing Spots, a drama Egnew also scored and provided many pop songs for the soundtrack. A fan of film, Egnew is currently working at producing and starring in her own original screenplay Imogene’s Waltz, a dramatic work set in Montana that she plans on scoring as well. On the theatrical boards, Egnew was part of the VDAY WestLA 2007 celebrity cast of The Vagina Monologues with actresses Jennifer Beals, Alexandra Hedison, and many more recognized names. "I performed a piece called My Short Skirt, and I wore this completely trashy costume. I looked like a two penny hooker!" laughed Egnew. "During the red carpet photos, I was being shot, and this picture of me in the costume made it into a Hollywood fashion disaster column. They panned my cheesy costume to death thinking it was a real outfit. It was great!"

Danielle Egnew’s formidable creative record is inspiring. I asked Egnew if there was a secret to her seemingly endless success. She answered, "You don’t have to limit yourself. That’s such a lie, that you have to only focus in one area to succeed. Just do what you’re good at, work really hard and don’t get jealous when you don’t get something you wanted, and trust me, the rest will follow. But no matter what, don’t whine and blame the world when things don’t go your way, because people who live in jealousy never succeed."

The truth about Danielle Egnew is not merely the rock stardom or the screen stardom. Being Danielle Egnew is about loving where you are at right now, and about making miracles happen, one step at a time. In the face of obscene odds facing a singer from the farm state of Montana with no agent and no billionaire industry benefactor, Danielle Egnew represents the little guy with astronomical creative abilities who makes good. She is an important reminder that we can do anything, be anyone, and achieve greatness no matter what the odds. Danielle Egnew is a beacon, shining without remorse, becoming in the process exactly what it is that real entertainment legends are made of -- Magic.

Find Danielle on the web: www.DanielleEgnew.com


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