Dana Marie was so wonderful to sit down with. Though she is a recent Belmont graduate, she did something extraordinary! She released a concept album called "She" on April 28th of this year. The album is about the journey that comes with exploring one's sexuality. It takes you through the ups and downs, and eventually, as Dana says, it goes from "personal to universal," embodying everyone...no matter what road you travel.
Tell us, who is Dana Marie?
"I just graduated form Belmont a couple of weeks ago, which is terrifying, but also great. I was a songwriting major there...music business minor, because I thought "Maybe I should have some sense of what's happening in the business.
...I moved here four years ago for school from New Jersey which was...a change, but it was awesome and I love it, so I'm staying here."
So, you wrote a concept album, "She." What was it about?
"This young woman, who is discovering herself and falls in love with another woman for the first time. She is confused, and it's exciting, but it's crazy because, you know, this is the first time that that's happened. I wrote it because I think a lot of artists now are starting to not just come out, but put that part of themselves into their music...And talk about the Pride aspect, which is great, but I think something that's not talked about enough is the period before that ...coming out to yourself."
Is "She" the first project that you released?
"No, this is actually my second one. I released an EP two years ago...but this is my first full length project."
What was your first EP called?
"Liftoff! It was a six song EP.
But this new project was super special...it was a year or more in the making....I'm really excited about it."
Is it a true story?
"It is. Yeah. There are parts that are fictional, just for pizazz!... but overall, it's autobiographical."
Did you plan to write a concept album about this, or did it just happen?
"Well, in Belmont, I was in the honors program, and with the specific track that I chose, you had to do a Senior thesis. So the beginning of Junior year, I started thinking about what I wanted to do ...I knew that I wanted to do a concept album, but I had no idea what the concept was going to be! I said "I don't know how to write a concept album! I've never done that!" It was really really challenging, but after going through what the character on the album goes through in the first few years of college, I felt like it was really clear and important to write about that...so it became my concept."
What do you hope your listeners take away from hearing the album?
"Obviously it's going to be a different experience for every listener, but I want people to take away from this that it's really important to be yourself. ...and be true to who you are once you figure that out... and you shouldn't be afraid to go on that journey and explore who you are...and to be proud of who you are."
What do you want to do next?
"I like doing shows, but I never see myself as a 'go on tour for months on end,' kind of person.
With the track "Recognized," ...I was the most excited about that one. I had that idea since the start. I didn't know how I was going to do it...but I think that's one of the most important tracks on there cause it brings the story from personal to universal. I would love to make that into a movement ...I've had ideas of starting a blog, or something like that...it's still in the works, but I want to make that some kind of "Recognized Movement." ...it's important for you to recognize yourself, and others, too.
As for the music itself, I would like to promote it with shows. Maybe not full blown, nationwide tour, but I like the idea of little living room tours, or, you know, regional tours. I would love to do something like that."
Did you plan on being a role-model?
"At first, it was more of "This is something I'm passionate about," but as I wrote it and went through the story, I got to the last few songs, which were more universal...and I thought, "I want to touch people...I want to inspire them to be who they are.'"
Coming out on the other side of that journey, how do you feel now that you're not struggling with your identity?
"It's very relieving actually. It was scary releasing that album, because it is mostly true... And it's scary to just be honest, but I think it's important and it'll reach people if it's honest."
Do you have any words of wisdom for the humans of the world?
"Be true to who you are. Don't let other people tell you who they think you should be. And it's okay if you don't know...that uncertainty is okay."