20 Questions

Erica Dawn – A Rocking Voice of Country Music

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20 Questions is our opportunity to talk with various people in the country music industry.  Everyone from musicians and singers to public relations and concert promoters.

This month we talk to Erica Dawn – The Akron native has had a breakout year performing her country music all over Northeastern Ohio, and was named the “Top Band” by the Akron Beacon Journal and “Best Live Local Act” by the Canton Repository.

  1. At what age did you start performing?  Do you remember the very first time on stage?

“I’ve always been a performer. From cheerleading, to dance, to music I have always felt comfortable on stage. My very first time singing on stage was at church when I received the big solo for my Christmas Play.”

  1. What is your favorite part about performing?

“The crowd. There is something for me that when I start to perform and the audience reacts back to me that makes me love what I do.”

  1. You started playing as a solo performer last fall.  Did you play with any other country or rock bands before that?

“I did. I filled in with both The Buck Naked Band and Backroads for a little over a year when their lead females were unable to be there.”

  1. Your band seems to really be tight after such a short time.  What is it like to play with the group you have behind you?

“I couldn’t do what I do if it weren’t for the talented group behind me. We take pride in the fact that we are all trained and educated musicians coming together to do what we love, but aside from that, we’re family. They are my brothers and that is what gives us the chemistry that is seen on stage.”

  1. I have heard some call your music country, some call it rock, some say country/rock.  What do you call the music and how would you describe it to someone who has never heard you perform?

“I am a country artist, with a rock and roll feel. My voice is rock, but my personality is country. When describing my performance, you’re going to get energy, and a lot of it. My set list contains songs that you know, you forgot about, that you love, and songs you may have never heard. My originals have a rock feel, but are nothing less than country tunes.”

  1. Who are some of your music idols and/or influences?

“Well, this has always been a hard question for me to answer. If we’re going to talk about “Voice”.. Carrie Underwood. The amount of vocal technique that comes from that artist makes me want to continue to work daily on my craft. If we’re talking about “influence” … Mozart. I’m actually a trained opera singer, so i’ve grown up appreciating and studying classical composers. Mozart gave something to music that was timeless. It’s 2016 and Mozart is still being talked about, even in a Cleveland Country Magazine interview.”

  1. If you could sit and talk to one musical artist living or dead, who would it be and why?

“I have to once again go with Carrie Underwood. I respect her for her faith, her drive, her writing style, and of course her voice. If I had the chance, I believe I could spent an entire day just picking her brain.”

  1. How was the reaction from your fans on your first EP that you released in April?

“It was something that was humbling and completely caught me off guard. New artists usually struggle when it comes to a first ever EP, however I am blessed to have some of the most loyal, supportive, and loving fans on the planet. My music was well received not only locally, but internationally as well. I’m currently selling albums in France, Italy, Russia, Australia, and Germany. Also, the record is receiving daily airplay on internet radio.  I think my favorite experience is when my friends use snapchat to show me how they jam out to my music on their way to work. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”

  1. Do you have a favorite song on the EP?

“Well, this is a hard one too. “Southbound and Determined” is my dream. It’s my personality and it’s everything that “Erica Dawn” is. However, “Officer Hero” is very personal to me because it was written out of personal pain that I endured back in 2014. Our family lost a loved one in the line of duty, Akron police officer, Justin Winebrenner. In the tragedy, he left behind my baby cousin, Charlee Ayn. I wrote the song at his funeral while watching Charlee run around not fully comprehending what had just happened. Every time I hear the song, or play the song, it’s just a different feeling that any other song on the EP and you cannot help but notice the atmosphere change when we’re honoring a hero on stage.”

  1. You write a lot of your own music.  When did you start writing and where does the inspiration come from?

“I have been writing music since Jr. High. I have always loved writing and I have always been a writer. Funny story, all throughout school my writing style was always so advanced that I was ALWAYS being accused of plagarism of using someone else’s work. It wasn’t until teachers started talking and realized i’m actually just a really gifted writer. The inspiration from my writing sometimes comes from personal experience, the other half of the time comes out of nowhere.  I will be doing absolutely nothing and all of a sudden a song concept will pop in my head. I normally freeze, grab my cell phone, open the notes section, and write it down. “Southbound and Determined” came to be out of nowhere. I was sitting there with an old friend and I said, “ I don’t even care, Country music is my passion and my dream. I’m southbound and determined to …,” and I froze. At that very moment the entire idea popped into my head and I wrote the song that so many have come to love.”

  1. Are there any songs you wish you would have included on the EP?

“No. I really pondered what songs to put on the EP. I wanted listeners to really capture who Erica Dawn was from her style, her sound, and her songwriting. Putting “Officer Hero” on the EP was actually a conversation. Many of my team thought it was too sad, too raw, too current. But, I decided that it tells part of my story, my songwriting journey if you will.”

  1. What can people expect from your full-length album that you will start recording soon and release in 2017?

“This album is nothing like my first. I’ve given my listeners a “taste,” now my listeners are going to get the full Erica Dawn. The Erica Dawn that they have come to love is that country girl with that rock and roll soul. This album really taps into my songwriting abilities, my vocal style, and the all around Erica Dawn personality. There’s humor, attitude, spunk, and most importantly it just rocks!”

  1. Do you have any idea of title for the album or a list of songs yet?

“I do not have a title yet, I will probably not come up with a title until the album is completely done. A lot can change in the next few months. A few of the songs featured on the new album, “Shut Up and Whiskey Kiss Me,” “Make Up Your Mind On Loving Me,” and “The Way You Say My Name.””

  1. You have come pretty far since last year, what have been some of the highlights over the past year?

“This year has me on cloud nine. I couldn’t ask for a better break out year. I was given the honor of “Top Band” by the Akron Beacon Journal. I won “Best Live Local Act” by the Canton Repository. I was featured on FOX 8 News on Memorial Day. I was able to play at the Hardrock Rocksino Northfield Park. I am currently on the Hot List, next to my producer, Joe Vitale Jr. and some great friends, the Buck Naked Band. What an Honor!”

  1. Anything you would have changed over the past year?

“It’s hard for me to say I would have changed anything because I feel so blessed to have had the year I have had. I think trying to find negatives in such a positive year is quite difficult. I’m not saying I do not have anything to work on or change, but this year has just been so incredible, it’s hard to find fault in it.”

  1. You have a pretty strong following online and at your shows.  What is it that makes your fans so loyal to you and your music?

“My fans are family. After so many of my shows I come home thinking, ‘Wow, those aren’t just fans, those are family.’ Even a brand new fan quickly becomes family. I am just so blessed for the fans that I have.”

  1. You play at a lot of the clubs in the area…any favorites come to mind? And Why?

“I appreciate every single venue that allows me to showcase my music. Each one is very special to me in it’s own way. I look forward to seeing bar owners, bartenders, patrons, all the new faces I get to meet in the new locations, etc. It’s truly the highlight of my show is meeting all the new people. I love all my venues. Each have their own unique style, customer base, and each treat me like a superstar. I could not do what I do without their support.”

  1. What shows are next on the schedule?

“This Saturday (August 20) I will be at the North Canton Festival at 2:00pm in the Park at the North Canton YMCA and later that evening at Whiskey Ranch in Green for another show at 9:30pm. But, I am counting down the minutes until I take the stage at The Stark County Fair on September 4th at Noon.  I grew up there showing large livestock in the 4-H program. I spent each year in the show ring with beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens. If I have to be honest, 4-H is the reason I am a country music singer and it is the very program that made me who I am today. It’s the number one thing I miss most about my childhood and to be taking that stage in front of all my peers, family, and friends… Is a feeling that I cannot describe in words.  I have shows every weekend, this specific show just holds a special place in my heart.”

  1. Any more new venues scheduled this year?

“As of this year, I have no new venues because they have all been new to me since I have only been out a year. However, next year I look forward to announcing major shows in brand new venues.”

  1. Where do you want to be performing five years from now and what are your musical goals?

“Five years from now I want to be performing in places I never imagined. I want to be playing on stages that will make my hometown proud. Of course I have the musical goal of making my career out of my love and passion of country music. My number one goal as an artist is to write a timeless song. I want a song that will be meaningful through generations to come.”

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