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Anna Danes
Singer/Producer/Promoter/Author/Philanthropist/Mom

 

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Phone: 310-400-6200

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Anna was born in Gdansk, Poland. "Although I was young when we left, I remember it well. Life was very tough in Communist Poland. One had to live their lives in hiding. You couldn't really tell anyone much of anything because you didn't know who was in the Communist party and who wasn't. You were restricted, couldn't leave the country, couldn't travel, and had very few freedoms. My parents would get in trouble if they were too open-minded or spoke too openly at home. Both of them worked but financially it was horrible, and there wasn't anything to even buy with the money that they made."

Anna went with her family on a “vacation” to Sweden with a two-week visa and that’s when they escaped to the West. Although Sweden would not grant them asylum because they were considered economic rather than political refugees, her father was an engineer and, because Canada needed engineers, they soon settled in Ottawa. It was difficult for Anna at first for not only did she have to leave behind her entire extended family and friends in Poland (some of whom she never saw again), but she also had to become part of a different culture and learn two new languages, English and French. As well, she had to deal with the loneliness that took place after her parents eventually divorced.

One of her early joys involved singing. "I joined a Polish church choir in Ottawa and it just so happened that it was the year that Pope John Paul visited Canada. We had a chance to perform for him which was definitely a highlight." As a teenager, she discovered and fell in love with jazz, the music she would find herself drawn to for inspiration and comfort as she moved through life.
Anna excelled in high school and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Ottawa. After she had completed her undergraduate work in ancient history and archaeology, she went to law school at the University of Windsor. She practiced law for three years before reaching one of the turning points of her life. "I met my future husband and decided to follow my heart. I went with my instinct, left the law, closed down my practice, and moved to Southern California."

She worked as operations manager in her husband’s business, helping make it a success, then became a full-time mom. The next turning point in Anna's life was completely unexpected. At an auction, she bought her young daughter singing lessons since she had shown a strong interest in music. Things went fine for the first three lessons, but then her daughter lost her interest in singing. At the next lesson she refused to sing altogether. "I didn't want to waste the lesson so I decided to take it myself. The teacher, after hearing my voice, said 'Wow, where did you come from?’" One of the teachers, pianist-keyboardist-arranger-composer Larry White, became Anna's mentor. "I got very lucky. Larry has inspired me to reach my potential, getting me to sing perfectly in-tune at all times. He has helped me develop my own style, found songs that are suitable for me, tailored them for me and wrote all new arrangements. I have learned so much from him."
It was such a great feeling being able to sing, I felt free and liberated.”

As she did when she moved to Canada and had to learn new languages, and when she worked hard to become a lawyer, Anna threw herself wholeheartedly into this new phase of her life. Along with her determination, she had such a strong natural talent that she developed very quickly. In the studio to record a few demos so as to hear how she sounded, the reaction from others was so favorable that she soon found herself recording her first CD.

Anna is an avid philanthropist especially around causes that support women, children and the arts and sits on a board of the San Diego Symphony. She has sung the National Anthem twice at Opening Day of the Del Mar Race Track, in front of an audience of nearly 50,000 people.

 

 

 

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This is the story of how a little girl from communist Poland of the 1970's finally found her "wings" decades later on the sunny shores of Southern California. This is a story about music, transformation, and grit - and the power of love and acceptance. It's the story of how I became a jazz singer in my 40's after many gritty adventures through life...I hope it inspires you to look for your own wings, should they be hiding!