Kaua‘i born and raised local boy Danyo Cummings, who graduated from Kapa‘a High School in 2003, has become a well-known pop sensation in Hawai‘i and beyond.
Even though he is a rising successful artist who is working on his sophomore album, he is still a down-to-earth guy who still has that music drive and hunger.
I got to meet Danyo in person at Dubb City Productions’ studio through Kaua‘i producer Ariki Foster and was very impressed by this young man.
He had such a professional yet fun energy about him. As I was talking story with him I found out how Danyo Cummings became the person he is today, personally and musically.
Danyo is currently living on O‘ahu, and flies back and forth to Kaua‘i to work on music and spend time with his ‘ohana, friends and loved ones. When I asked him about his musical background and who first introduced Hawaiian music to him and how he started his music journey, Danyo said he comes from a family of prominent musicians and local entertainers.
“My mom played music on the Smith’s boats for years, and my brothers and I pretty much grew up on Wailua River,” he said. “Back then I didn’t have an appreciation for Hawaiian music (yet), so while all the tourists were enjoying my mom’s music and the hula dancers, I’d be at the back of the boat with my CD player and headphones listening to rap and R&B music.”
Danyo said his musical journey started in high school.
“Before I found my love for music, I was actually the class clown and I’d do anything to entertain my friends and make people laugh,” he said. “So, one day I asked a friend of mine to play some chords on his ‘ukulele and I wrote my first song.
“I won’t go into detail, but the songs I wrote back then were to make people laugh and looking back they were actually pretty funny,” he said. “Anyway, around that same time I was going through the whole high school relationship phase and soon my songs went from being funny to sappy love songs. The funny thing was that people actually liked the serious stuff so I kept going. It wasn’t hard to find inspiration, and by the end of high school I had a stack of notebooks filled with songs. If I learned anything in high school, it’s how to write songs.”
I asked Danyo if his sophomore album was done, and when was the anticipated release date.
“As a matter of fact, I just finished my second album, ‘A Beautiful Thing,’ and it should be ready within the next couple of months,” he said. “It’ll be available on iTunes in November and in stores shortly after.
“I spent a few weeks on Kaua‘i working with my Maori brother, Ariki Foster, and I’m really happy with what we came up with,” he said. “Everything came together pretty quickly and so many pieces of the puzzle just fit at the perfect moment.”
Danyo added, “It felt like it was meant to happen exactly how it did and nothing felt forced.”
He said the album represents exactly where he is right now and sets up the next, which he is already working on.
“The thing I’ve always loved about albums is how they reflect where an artist is in their life story,” he said. “It’s like yearbook pictures back in high school.”
As we went deeper into his music world, I asked if he had any collaboration with any other Hawai‘i artist, and Danyo excitedly replied that for this new album he will have a few guest appearances by some talented friends.
“My right hand man, Aldrine Guerrero (‘Ukulele Underground), helped me with some ‘ukulele arrangements and laid down some beautiful sounds on this project,” he said. “Here’s a secret: He’s actually the first thing you’ll hear when you listen to the album.
“Also, I managed to get my girl Chanel Flores (The Tita Song) to do something special on one of my favorite tracks on this album,” he said. “We were at the county fair when I asked her if she knew anyone who could sing this one song. She looked at me, sang it, and blew my mind right on the spot! I knew right then that she was the one I needed and we went straight to the studio and made it happen. It was meant to be!
“I also have my friend Nigel Kauanui on this project,” Danyo said. “He’s a super talented rapper with a trippy style that consists of singing and rapping with these tight harmonies. His sound and his story fit perfectly on this one song on the album.
“Another talented rapper I worked with on this album is Prie,” he added. “If you’re into the Hawai‘i hip-hop scene you already know that Prie has been making waves the past year or so and his mix tapes have gotten serious attention from fans all over the world. When you hear him rap, you just know that the kid is destined to make it, and I was stoked that he was excited to jump on a song of mine.”
Cummings said there are a couple people he’d like to work with in the near future, maybe on the next project, such as Anuhea and Kimie.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
To find out more about Danyo Cummings or to book him for future shows on Kaua‘i hit him up online. For booking, you can reach him at email@example.com. ‘Like’ him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/danyocummingsmusic, follow him on Twitter (@danyocummings) or visit www.danyocummings.com for more info.