Danielle Grabianowski is an award-winning singing actress whose performances have been likened to "Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir and Bette Midler at the Continental Baths." This June, she is making two very special appearances.
On June 17, Danielle will be performing in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys benefit, hosted by The Meeting's Justin Sayre (Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th Street). Night of A Thousand Judys will donate all proceeds to the Ali Forney Center which is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. Joining Danielle in this extraordinary evening are original "Weather Girl" Martha Wash, three-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello, Glee's Telly Leung, Justin Vivian Bond, Lea DeLaria, Christiane Noll, Tituss Burgess, Karen Mason, and many others. Click here for tickets!
Then, on June 19 (and August 28), at 7pm, Danielle will grace the stage of NYC's historic Duplex Cabaret Theatre at in the West Village for an evening of eclectic, impromptu set of standards, stories and pop tunes. Click here for tickets!
For more on Danielle be sure to visit http://daniellegrabianowski.wordpress.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My family moved to Florida in the middle of 6th grade and I had come from a really small school and had trouble making new friends in my new school. I was really shy. In 8th grade, I was picked to do a short solo at our chorus concert. The song was "Voices that Care." The teacher was Ms. Jury, we're Facebook friends now. Figuring out I could sing made the future look a little brighter.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I'd like to continue working with my pianist, Nate Buccieri forever, he is amazing. And, I worked with a band at Sleep No More, but I've never worked with a band on my own show. I would love to collaborate on arrangements with a bunch of musicians in that way. I'm hoping to do that later on as our monthly gig at the Duplex gets underway.
3. What excites you about your upcoming cabaret show at The Duplex on June 19? Just that I don't know what's going to happen! It's a little more impromptu than other shows I've done, we're making it a monthly thing, so we're switching things up a little bit every time, so I find the unpredictability of all of that pretty exciting.
4. What do you like about performing at The Duplex as opposed to other venues around the city? THE STAFF!!! They just have a great way of making performers feel really welcome.
5. On June 17, you are taking part in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys, benefiting the Ali Forney Center. What made you want to be part of this evening? How does it feel to know you are helping so many GLBT Youth? It's just a great thing. I've sung at The Meeting a couple of times and being a part of any evening where Justin Sayre is at the mic is bound to be a blast. Beyond that, I was actually pretty familiar with the Ali Forney Center through my efforts in social work. Someone came to speak about homelessness in the LGBT population in one of my classes and I really came to understand what a huge issue it is. I think living in Manhattan, especially if you're not gay, it can seem like being gay is totally easy, but a lot of these kids are coming from cultures and school settings a lot different than what we accept as the norm at places like the duplex or in the theater district. They are made to feel unsafe in their schools, they're ostracized by their families, and what's most startling is the rates of suicide that we're seeing. That tells you something about the predicament these kids and young adults are in - if the trend among this population is that life is so hard at 18 that the only way you can make it better is to attempt suicide, then clearly we really need to rally and give them the support they need. It's an important issue, it doesn't get nearly enough attention and I hope we make a lot of money!
6. You are the recipient of the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Vocalist and the Bistro's Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a "Star on the Rise." What do these honors mean to you? It was a great feeling to be recognized. The cabaret community in NYC is such a warm and fascinating group of people - I love being a part of that.
7. You took two years off from performing to go back to school to get a master's degree in Social Work. What made you want to pursue a degree? Do you feel this experience enriched your performing at all? My desire to do social work is totally related to my experience as an artist. When I was going through all the struggles as a performer, there were a lot of people who helped me: my acting teacher, my Alexander Technique teacher, my therapist. Mostly they helped me grow and change, which is what I needed to do. Most of the time, it's really hard to change on your own. No matter how much you want to change, a time will probably come when you don't think you can do it and you give up on yourself. It's a natural part of the process for a lot of us, which is why we need people around believing in us when we don't believe in ourselves and fighting for us when we lack the strength to fight on our own. On a very simple level, that is what social workers do. I wanted to give back to people what had been given to me. I'm still at the beginning of things but at some point I plan on working with other performers on all of this stuff. Social Work School has really shifted the way I see the world and other people and I'm guessing that will come across as I get back into performing.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? When I first moved to the city, so much of my confidence was wrapped up in my identity as a singer and when I didn't have success the first few years, my self-esteem took a huge hit. It was really bad, at the worst point, I couldn't even sing without crying. On some level, I thought that singing was the best thing about me and if no one found it valuable, I didn't know what to do with myself. Eventually I had to learn that there was more to me and more to life than performing. So I actually learned the most about myself through the rejection, which I think is the case for a lot of artists. Ironically, when I stopped grasping at the need to be successful, something more natural and innate took over that people really responded to.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? It's so simple, but when I was auditioning for musicals and making myself miserable, I knew I had to make a change, but I'd been doing it for so long, the idea of simply making the 'right choice' about what to do next seemed impossible. My husband said to me, "it doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that you do something." And it's true. Soon after that responded to a Playbill add for an internship for Miller Wright & Associates. They specialize in PR for Jazz and Cabaret artists. While I didn't become a PR maven, I was exposed to amazing performances that I would have never had the chance to see and I also learned how to promote other people's shows which made it much easier when it came time to promote my own. I eventually got a job there and was surrounded by cabaret all the time and I think that played a huge role in all the great things that have happened to me cabaret-wise. And it all started by a small step of responding to an internship add.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Time travel!!!!
Danielle Grabianowski won the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Debut, the Bistro’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a “Star on the Rise” and the first-ever 1930s Idol competition. She was last seen as the jazz singer "Josephine Grant" in the award-winning Off-Broadway sensation, Sleep No More. Danielle took a two-year hiatus from performing to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and has performed with various theater companies around the country including the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Bakerloo Theatre Project and Bigfork Summer Playhouse as well as in various readings and workshops of new musicals and plays in New York City. Some of her favorites include "Thea" in Fiorello!, "the Porter" in Macbeth, "Fiona" in Brigadoon and "Angelique" in The Imaginary Invalid.