Born in Illinois, Danna Aliano moved to the Bay Area of California in late eighties, carrying with her little more than a few hundred dollars, a Masters Degree, and a dream of singing for her supper. Despite her success in higher education, Aliano couldn’t let her musical desires take a backseat. Always finding solace in singing, it wasn’t until she first heard blues legend Koko Taylor that Aliano took a more career-oriented path with her vocal gifts.

Not long after her arrival on the West Coast a chance meeting between Danna and drummer David Koolhoven led to the formation of Chain of Blues, eventually rounding the lineup out with guitarist Arthur Thompson and bassist John Gay.  Soon the blues quartet, fronted by Aliano’s aggressive vocal style and a physically dynamic presence onstage, was being courted by labels, which led to a deal with Warner Bros. and an exhaustive global touring schedule of more than 250 dates a year that saw them playing alongside the likes of Robben Ford, Gregg Allman, Marshall Tucker, Kansas, and more.

Chain of Blues would go on to release You Just Bring Me the Blues, One Love and Blind Curve over their tenure together.

Undeterred, Aliano embarked on a solo career, releasing her first solo projects—two albums, RIPE and Pigeonholed—as the 20th Century changed to the 21st. After six international tours of Scandinavia, the weary performer took an extended break from performing starting in 2000’s. Although she would play the occasional gig with her former band after that, this on-again/off-again artistic relationship failed to gain momentum: “I would do these gigs and say to myself, ‘What am I doing this for?’ We’re not really back together as a band. We’re not planning on recording or writing new songs,” explains Aliano. “And I’d quickly retreat back into myself. It just wasn’t worth it to me for a variety of reasons.”

Rather than trying to overcome what was becoming a negative association with music, Aliano backed off entirely from her career. “I was looking for something good in the music business,” she says today, “but I couldn’t find it.”

Over the subsequent years, Aliano would continue to share her voice but only for causes that she believed in, such as Relay for Life and the anti-drunk driving programs D.A.R.E. and Avoid the 21.

The one constant in her personal life has been Ava Garavatti, longtime friend, companion, champion and now-wife. During her 30 career as a police officer in Livermore, California, Ava pushed Aliano to start playing again, to start creating again, and start giving back to people through her music.

“About ten or twelve years into my music ban, she finally got me,” Aliano explains. “She said, ‘You like charities, play for them’.” One such event that turned the tide for Aliano’s outlook on her music career centered around the tragic killing of three police officers in Oakland. “Ava knew one of the slain officers and that made this so very real and I started to think about what I could do to help. So I thought, ‘Why don't I sing and give the money to those families that lost their husband, father, son or friend?’

“And that's really how I got back into playing,” Aliano says. “It was something that took me and my ego out of it as much as possible and I began associating my music in a positive way and with helping others. That was the catalyst that got me writing with a purpose and directly led to my first true solo album, Sunnyland.”And it all comes down to Danna Aliano’s new life motto, something that everyone of a certain age can take to heart:

There are no deadlines on dreams.


Danna’s Music Biography