Local singer could be ‘next big thing’There’s been no big break for Danielle Thrush, no one huge career-making moment for the 19-year-old singer.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
There’s been no big break for Danielle Thrush, no one huge career-making moment for the 19-year-old singer.
Not yet, at least.
But for the budding Cottage Grove-based pop singer who’s less than a year removed from the release of her first album, that big breakthrough might be just around the corner.
Thrush is one of 11 artists competing to become the Next Big Thing as part of a Radio Disney contest, and for two weeks beginning Saturday she’s the competition’s featured artist.
It will be her face on the Radio Disney Website, her songs playing online and over-the-air between the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus for millions of listeners to hear.
And for the young woman who spends hours a day making contacts, updating her music sites and trying to book gigs when she’s not busy nannying, it represents the biggest chance she’s had yet to break down the door of a tough-to-crack music business.
“People always ask me, ‘what do you think your big break was?’” Thrush said. “I’ve had lots of little ones. One door has opened the next, and so on and so forth. Which has been great, in a way, because I’ve been able to ease myself into it. But at the same time, things are happening really fast.”
This, though, could fast-forward her young career.
Thrush has waded her way through a crowded Minneapolis-St. Paul music scene, gaining recognition and gigs since her six-song, debut album “Long Way Down” came out last June.
She’s been singing “since, like, birth,” Thrush said — her mom, Laurie, called her “our little songbird” in Christmas cards sent to family and friends. Thrush sang in choirs and acted in junior high plays. But she didn’t begin to seriously pursue a music career until the end of high school in 2007.
When she started writing songs they were “pretty awful,” Thrush admits. But soon she got the hang of it and started filling up tapes while sitting at her piano.
That, coupled with her impressive voice, “presents the total package,” her father Tim says.
“I am surprised at her songwriting,” Tim Thrush said. “That’s something that a lot of good singers never learn to do. And I don’t know where that came from, it came from some creative place.”
The wheels began turning in 2007. A family friend heard a song she’d written, “Triathletes,” and asked to use it for a charity event. Soon he’d passed it along, this time to a pair of local music producers who offered to produce her first album. Soon she was in the studio laying down tracks.
Thrush has been performing around the Twin Cities for almost a year, for audiences at The Depot and the Fine Line, and trying to land a gig at the popular Varsity Theater in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown.
But up against her 10 competitors in The Next Big Thing, Thrush says she “feels like the underdog.” Among the field are young performers who have spent years trying to break into the music business, who have worked since elementary school to get an opportunity like the Radio Disney competition.
Thrush still doesn’t know why they picked her or how they found her.
“That just goes to show what the Internet can do,” Laurie said.
“I just thought it was a joke,” Thrush said of the MySpace message she received in December from the director of Radio Disney.
But it’s no joke: From Feb. 21 through March 6, fans can vote for Thrush at radiodisney.com as many times as they like.
A contest winner will be announced in late-April and with it will earn a spot in a concert alongside some of Disney’s biggest stars.
But whether Thrush wins or not, her dad knows the experience and exposure “is priceless.” Her featured two weeks could catapult the up-and-coming, locally known artist into the consciousness of millions of young music fans.
No matter what happens, Danielle Thrush knows: this just might be her big break.
“I’ll be riding the high of my life,” she said, “regardless if I win.”