“I’m definitely taking more chances now,” Danielle Nicole says of Cry No More, her second solo album and the follow-up to her widely acclaimed 2015 solo debut Wolf Den. “I grew up playing the blues, and the blues is still a big part of what I do. But now I’m reaching out more and trying different things. It still sounds like me, but I’m stretching out a lot more than I have previously.” The musical expertise and emotional depth of Cry No More reflect of a lifetime’s worth of music-making. Born Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, Danielle comes from a long line of singers and musicians, and showed an affinity for singing almost from birth. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she performed in public for the first time at the age of 12, singing Koko Taylor’s “Never Trust a Man” as part of a Blues for Schools program at her elementary school. In her early teens, she began singing in local coffeehouses and at open mic events, often jamming with her parents at clubs that would allow minors. At 16, she became lead singer in her father’s band, Little Eva and the Works. In 1999, she started her own band, Fresh Brew, with some older local musicians. Fresh Brew performed for four years and represented Kansas City in the prestigious International Blues Challenge.
It was during this time that Danielle and her brothers Nick and Kris launched a family band, Trampled Under Foot, relocating to Philadelphia in the process. To maintain the family concept, Danielle learned to play bass, eventually mastering the instrument. Trampled Under Foot traveled the world and recorded several self-released albums. As Trampled Under Foot wound down after an eventful 13-year run, Danielle formed her own band and signed with Concord Records, releasing a self-titled EP and the Anders Osborne-produced album Wolf Den in 2015. Those releases established Danielle as a formidable solo artist and bandleader.
Nicole’s distinctive, inventive bass work—which resulted in her becoming the first woman to win the Blues Foundation’s 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist, Bass—is the product of years of intensive roadwork. Although she had no experience with the instrument when she became Trampled Under Foot’s bassist, now she can’t imagine life without it. “Playing the bass definitely influences the way I sing, the way I write and the way I approach music,” she says. “As I’ve progressed more, the bass lines have been getting a lot more intricate. It’s still a challenge to sing while playing bass, because it’s very rare that the bass line and the vocal go together. I still get tripped up sometimes, but at this point I’d never give up the bass.