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Neo soul singer Dana Ali talks gospel heritage, Atlanta and finding success

Talented Dana moved from Georgia, USA, to carve out a career in the UK

Dana Ali of the Dana Ali Band

She made her name in Atlanta in a gospel choir.

But Dana Ali may be more well known across the pond since she formed a neo-soul band with formed Ckreed and Babe Ruth star Dave Hewitt.

It is rare not to see a poster advertising their Dana Ali Band, who are now surely one of the most prolific performing acts from Kirklees.

“It’s my career so we do as much as we can,” said Dana, who swapped her southern US city home for Honley in 2013 with bassist Dave, who is also her husband.

“We have been gigging every week. We’ve recently done Manchester Jazz Festival and have been fortunate to replay some gigs. Matt and Phreds is a staple for us, as is Darlington’s Rhythm and Blues Festival.

“The response is getting better since we formed – playing regularly definitely helps.

Dana Ali and Dave Hewitt of the Dana Ali Band

“We don’t actually now have time to fit in all the booking requests we get, even though we’d love to do them all.

“I just want to get to the next level – having a global outreach. I want to get our music out to the world.

“I think singing is what I’m meant to do.”

Dana and Dave are joined in the band by a stellar line up of guitarist Martin Chung of Nu-Popes fame, ex Shri and Jah Wobble drummer Marc Leyton-Bennett and keyboardist John Sunter

Despite their whirlwind gigging schedule, they have just finished recording what they hope will be their first release.

“We’ve done five tracks including Winding Me Up, which is now on YouTube.

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“It’s so fun to write. Dave and I collaborate and then present the songs to the band

“We’re still busy with gigging at the moment but I intend turning it into an EP to be an autumn project.”

Dana and Dave met when Dave, who is from Dewsbury but moved to the USA, set out in search of raw gospel singing talent.

“I was involved with a gospel church choir”, said Dana.

“It taught me to sing from by soul and to harmonise with others.

“Dave and I started out as friends and did some recording with Alan Shacklock from Babe Ruth.

Martin Chung, Dana Ali and Dave Hewitt of the Dana Ali Band

“We thought life would be better for a family over here so we moved.”

That the music scene is different in Atlanta and Honley should come as no surprise.

“You can’t compare the two places,” said Dana.

“Atlanta is well known for protecting and funding talent and has such a huge gospel history.

“Of course, it was hard to start again in Honley because no one knew who I was so I’ve had to prove myself.

“But it meant that I had to prove myself which has been a really great thing.”

Dana and Dave juggle band commitments with bringing up their young family.

“We have a four and a six-year-old.

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“But we’ve got a team of baby sitters who have been a brilliant support to us.

“The girls love to sing and play and I think they’ll end up following us into music, at least I hope so!”

The sky is the limit for Dana.

“Getting to tour to most places would be great.

“I’d like to do London, USA and Canada.

“And I’d love to go back and perform in Atlanta.

Dana Ali of the Dana Ali Band

“There are people who are looking forward to us coming back and sharing what we have been doing over here with them.

“What I sing about really has a meaning I have a different vision of life.

“I get such a high from music and just want people to come out and share the love.”

Dana Ali Band’s next local concert will be on October 14 at the Picturedrome in Holmfirth.

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