If you listen to Danny Leonard’s acoustic, folk music, a wave of calm and serenity will come over you. His songs are built in such a way that you can’t help but unwind and relax, letting your mind float into the melodies and lyrics.
“I’m always inspired by emotions that hit me hard enough to write about it. Anything from life and the future, to love and relationships,” he said. “I try to write about things that people can relate to as well, because connecting with people is a major reason that I perform and write music.”
The Little Neck singer-songwriter got his start by taking advantage of his brother’s birthday gift. His grandparents bought his brother an acoustic guitar for his birthday, but it wasn’t used much. One day, Leonard picked it up, started playing and that was that.
Years later, that decision grew into his debut record, “Autumn Air.” Leonard’s friend, Rahn Brosh, produced and engineered the release, helping him feel at ease with the whole process.
“It was a very cool experience, because he really believed in my music and abilities, and that goes a long way in making an artist feel comfortable enough to put his best work forward,” Leonard said.
The musician followed that EP with his second record, “The Blinds,” recorded in Vinegar Hill Sound studio, which was built by guitar virtuoso Justin King. King is one of Leonard’s guitar idols and he said it was “very exciting” to have someone like that on board to help cultivate his sound.
Leonard is not only a skilled songwriter, but he is a black belt in Judo, a pastime very different than music for him. In order to properly compete and work at Judo, he needs to put himself in another state emotionally and mentally than when playing a concert.
“When I have a big Judo competition, I have to build this big shell in order to be tough and do my best in competition. When I have a music gig, I have to really try to strip away all my layers, to be as vulnerable as I can be, so I can really express emotionally,” Leonard said. “However, Judo has given me confidence in life, especially when it comes to going out in public to perform.”
When it comes to performing, Leonard said his home borough is the place to be, offering a cultivating environment for musicians, especially in western Queens.
“I feel for live music, Queens has been such an amazing area. I’ve spent a lot of time in Astoria and Long Island City, where live music is getting bigger and bigger every month,” he said. “I’m so lucky to live in a borough that really has a lot of support and interest in live music.”
For this year, Leonard is going to have several live videos released by Blue Room Studios. He also plans to play many concerts in New York City and possibly New Jersey or Connecticut. To keep up with his latest news, visit www.facebook.com/dannyleonardmusic.
– Joe Marvilli