Solana Beach singer tops iTunes jazz charts

Solana Beach singer Anna Danes recently topped the iTunes jazz charts with her sophomore album.

“Find Your Wings” debuted Oct. 29 at No. 1 on the charts.

“It’s beyond exciting,” Danes said. “I’m extremely happy. It means something significant to have seen your name next to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.”

“Find Your Wings” features a dozen songs, a compilation of originals and covers.

Inspired by “The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album,” a 1975 studio album by singer Tony Bennett, accompanied by pianist Bill Evans, Danes set out to record her second full-length jazz album not long after releasing her 2013 debut album.

“It was just such a beautiful album,” Danes said about Tony Bennett and Bill Evans’ collaboration. “I wanted that same sort of feel — very elegant, very sparse, basic instrumentation and my vocals stronger upfront. So we put together an incredible team of musicians. I always shoot for the stars.”

Recorded at the iconic Capitol Studios in Hollywood and joined by top Los Angeles session players, “Find Your Wings” includes six original songs and six classic covers. The album is produced by Dave Darling, whose diverse credits include Brian Setzer, Tom Waits, Janiva Magness and Mötley Crüe.

Although “The Voice,” which Danes co-wrote with Cindy Alexander, is a sad song about the end of her marriage, Danes said her second album “takes a turn for the positive.”

Whereas her debut album, “Longing,” told a story about Danes longing for love, her second album is about her new journey in life. The songs are about life at the end of her marriage, life after separation, and then life with a new love.

“I’m back exploring what love is again,” she said.

A former lawyer and stay-at-home mom, Danes reinvented herself at the age of 43.

She discovered her passion for singing during her daughter’s voice lessons. When her then 7-year-old daughter refused to sing, Danes stepped in to sing.

Soon after, she recorded her first album. The process helped Danes through her divorce.

“Music has been a tremendous help for me,” Danes said when she released her debut album. “It has been very healthy and very cathartic. Not even knowing that it was happening, I was reaching for these particular songs because they struck a chord with me.”

“Longing” also featured a dozen songs, mostly jazz covers, including “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Killing Me Softly” and “Something.” The album also included two original songs written by producer Larry B. White and his wife, Margaret White.

Danes finally got to try her hand at songwriting for her second album, co-writing five of the six original songs and writing one of the songs entirely on her own.

“I’d never written a song before in my life,” Danes said.

“Long Distance” was the first song she wrote, which was about her new love. The couple, who lived apart, was together for two years.

She co-wrote the title track, “Find Your Wings,” with Alexander. The song, Danes said, is about believing in yourself.

“It’s amazing,” Danes said about writing her own material. “There’s nothing like singing your own stories.”

Born in Poland, Danes was 10 years old when she and her family escaped Communist rule and fled to Sweden. Her family later settled in Canada.

While adapting to a different culture and learning English and French, Danes also struggled with her parents’ divorce. She used music to escape and joined a Polish church choir in Ottawa. Until taking her daughter’s voice lessons, that was the only music experience she had.

Danes earned her bachelor’s degree in ancient history and archaeology from the University of Ottawa and studied law at the University of Windsor. She practiced family and estate law as an attorney in Toronto prior to relocating to California 16 years ago. Since then, she became a business owner and mother.

“I love singing and hosting people at my shows,” whose daughter is now 12 years old. “I love connecting with people.”

The album release party took place Oct. 28 at Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach, where Danes holds a monthly showcase called “Jazz on Cedros.” She is currently preparing for the “Jazz on Cedros Christmas Special,” a special holiday show set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at Carruth Cellars.

Tickets cost $25 and are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/jazz-on-cedros-the-white-christmas-edition-tickets-27527921755.

In addition to planning the 2017 “Jazz on Cedros” schedule, Danes is currently writing a book, inspired by “Find Your Wings.” She also plans on becoming a motivational speaker.

“‘Find Your Wings’ the album is kind of the starting point of the rest of my career as a motivational speaker and author,” Danes said.

“Believing in yourself is the key to anything,” she added. “Know yourself and what you want to do in life. I didn’t know what made me tick until very late in life, but I’m so glad I found it out.”

For more information about Danes, visit annadanes.com. “Find Your Wings” is available for $9.99 on iTunes.

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