DaNica Shirey has a set of pipes and vocal control that many singers would love to have, but as John Lennon once mused, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Along with the joys and responsibilities that come with raising a four-year-old daughter, Shirey endured the loss of her father three years ago and temporarily put the brakes on her singing career.
But music has always been an integral part of the York County, Pennsylvania native. If you’ve seen her inspiring battle round performance of “Halo” last week with Toia Jones, you know that her vocal talent is equally matched with a fighting spirit. Both artists took it to the limit with “Halo,” and it’s great to see Jones get stolen by Adam Levine to remain in the competition.
During our interview, Shirey seemed immensely grateful for her journey on The Voice, as she talked about being coached by Pharrell and being continually inspired by her father and daughter.
Your battle round performance of “Halo” with Toia Jones was definitely memorable.
Oh my gosh, yeah. It was such a crazy performance. At the beginning we were still doubting ourselves as everyone saw. We were just so worried about it and we weren’t sure where we were going with it. We were kind of holding back a lot, but with the help of the amazing Pharrell Williams (laughs) – he got us to open up and just really believe in ourselves and truly get down to the core and the meaning of the song and just try to feel it and put our hearts into it.
It was something that was so heartfelt that after our performance when we finally let loose, we had that moment when we just broke down and started crying because it was incredible for us.
I love singing that song – that song always makes me think of my dad. It was just really emotional and I never imagined that I would be able to do the stuff that I did without the help of Pharrell, I don’t think I could have.
Being a mother and having your father as a continued inspiration for you, how great has it been to have both of them in your life? I’m sure that inspires you.
It does. My father has inspired me to just be a better parent. He just followed me and he was always right behind me when I wanted to sing.
I told him from day one, ‘Daddy I want to sing.’ He was just there – 100%. That always felt amazing. I guess in a sense I kind of took it for granted a little bit and I was just so lost when he passed away. I didn’t know what to do.
My dad was such a positive person and he looked at the brighter side to every day and everything. I try really hard to be like that – I strive to be like him and then all I want to do is to make my daughter proud of me the way I am so proud of my dad. I love that connection I have with my father and I definitely have that with my daughter already. I want her to know that she can follow her dreams too. Whatever she wants to do, I’m going to back her up. I want that same relationship.
With Pharrell, he’s a great producer and artist, but he’s also a compassionate person. Can you talk about your connection with Pharrell?
For one, we mentioned from day one that we are both Aries. I feel like we naturally have this bond. It’s funny, as I’ve said before, there is just this thing with Pharrell from the beginning. Even while the other coaches were talking, I could just feel his energy. I could feel that he was just passionate about me – the way that he looked at me was so genuine and he really, really wanted me on his team. We connected in that way right away.
Musically, he works with so many styles of music and so many different artists and I enjoy singing different styles of music. I would love to get the chance to work with musicians from different genres. Who’s a better person to get advice from than Pharrell? I trust his word and I know that his ear for music is just perfect. I feel confident with him.
How has the fan reaction been with your time on The Voice? I’m sure it means a lot to you.
Absolutely – it really does. I cry every single day reading really nice comments that people write to me. I have some friends that are friend of mine that are from the area here (note – Shirey mentioned the family’s last name, but my darn recorder couldn’t decipher the name). They’re the nicest group of people that I’ve ever met. One of the girls had tagged me on a picture in my Facebook and they had this framed picture back when I was 14 or 15. I had a bunch of newspaper articles and they had all these cut outs framed on their wall. She tagged me in the picture and said that her parents had not taken that picture down. That was 10 years ago.
There was a girl that wrote me and said I inspired her to do music again because she kind of stopped after she had a child. She said, ‘you’ve inspired me to do it again that I already called the recording studio to start recording new songs.’
That’s why I’m doing this. I want to inspire people and uplift them with music the way it has done for me.
Being part of “The Voice” family must also be a wonderful part of your journey. Plus, maybe you’re able to experience your success in a different way these days.
I have developed a second family from this entire experience. Everybody has stayed in contact with one another even if they didn’t get a chair turn from the beginning. All of us have been so close, and it’s very interesting to see the people who you get close with.
I do feel that maybe it didn’t happen for me because it wasn’t my time ten years ago. I don’t know that I would have maybe appreciated or loved it this much. You really have to through some hard stuff in life. . . you kind of really have to fail to know the true feeling of succeeding.
It took me a long time to do it and I gave up on it for a while. Then I came back and with life experiences, I am so blessed and thankful that I am here now. I don’t think it could have worked out at a better time. I think it’s perfect timing.
You’re one of my favorites this season and I hope you make it deeper into the competition.
Thank you so much! Thank you.