Savannah’s Danielle Hicks Travels West to Work with Legend Jim Scott
Savannah’s Danielle Hicks travels west to work with producer legend Jim Scott to bring life to her latest project: Honey.
When I talked to Danielle Hicks, the Savannah songstress who has cemented her local legacy with a packed live schedule and a sultry sweet voice, a countdown was ticking down on her website. Just hours remained until the official relaunch of her site; but more importantly at the other end of that countdown was the launch of a Kickstarter campaign selling copies of her new album, “Honey”.
A kickstarter campaign may be an odd way to purchase an album, but one need only hear the story behind it to realize that Danielle Hicks rarely does things by the book.
“Last September I played a music festival called Wormtown in Massachusetts,” she said. “The only other female-led band there was called The Broadcast. They were main stage and I was side stage and I started looking at them and wondering how they got where they were.”
Along with her fiancé Blake Crosby, Hicks looked into The Broadcast discography and found that their breakthrough moment came when they worked with Grammy Award–winning producer Jim Scott at his LA studio Plyrz (pronounced like pliers).
Already having spent thousands recording in another studio, Hicks found that what she’d been able to produce so far wasn’t going to cut it—at least not if she was hoping to enter the “main stage” part of her career.
“I emailed Jim Scott’s manager Gary Waldman, who’s a cool musician himself. I guess I made it through the screen, because six months later we were in the studio,” she said.
“I listen to everything that gets sent to me,” said Scott. “Some of it, sadly, the talent’s just not there. I got Danielle’s demo and I was very interested… What I really liked about her is she has a great voice and her songs are very personal, but very fresh.
They weren’t copying some other song or songwriter. All of her influences—her blues influence, her musical theater influence—I found that all really interesting.”
The connection was made and that’s when Hicks got her first taste of stardom. Scott has worked with artists ranging from the Rolling Stones to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and everyone in between, racking up seven Grammys along the way. As such, his studio is the kind of musical playground every musician dreams of.
“His studio has a very commanding presence. You walk in and there’s this magnetic, energetic hum because of all the amazing equipment he’s collected over the years,” she said. “And it’s all live, so you can just go up and play anything.”
“His studio has a very commanding presence. You walk in and there’s this magnetic, energetic hum…”
Despite the impressive resume and toy collection, Hicks found the legendary producer to be down to earth and easy to work with.
“It’s an elevating experience because he is so creative as a producer. I didn’t realize what a difference that makes,” she said. “He shared so many awesome stories. We’d throw records on these vintage Italian speakers and never left. For ten days we had lunch and dinner there.”
While Hicks brought along guitarist Ben Keiser, Scott was impressed by her loyalty as well as by Keiser’s skills. Jim had a list of studio musicians he was itching to pair with Hicks’ vocals, and as luck would have it they were all in town.
From Chris Robinson Brotherhood guitarist Neal Casal to Dixie Chicks keyboardist John Ginty, those 10 days in the studio were a whirlwind of accomplished musicians.
“One of the players of the band he brought in asked, ‘What label are you under?’” Hicks said with a laugh. “I just had to say Blake and Danielle.”
And now with Honey under her belt, and an unforgettable experience with a storied producer, Hicks readies for the next phase in her career.
“She’s taking a big step,” said Scott. “Now she’s got product. And it’s pro—she sounds great, it’s all organic, she sang every word of it…It’s all human. That’s the kind of music I love.”
Check out the sweet results of Danielle Hicks’ collaboration with Jim Scott at her website, daniellehicks.com. To read more about Danielle Hicks, subscribe now or pick up the August/September issue of South magazine.