Danny Mallon: To make it in the U.S., you need to find your true voice

New York’s Johnny Rodgers Band did two workshops and listened and played with many local musicians in the few days that they were in Sabah for the KK Jazz Festival.

One evening I was standing around with drummer Danny Mallon, we were listening to one strong female singer.

“She’s good,” he said. “But she needs to find her real voice, then she’ll be great.”

New York drummer Danny Mallon in Kota Kinabalu Sabah with the Johnny Rodgers Band

Danny Mallon eyes the Gendang Beduk drum…

This singer had an R&B style, which of course is popular in this part of the world, like the world over.

“There are lots of singers like this in Asia, why don’t they make it in the States?” I asked.

“Because we have our own Alicia Keys. We don’t need everyone else’s,” he said. “That’s what I mean by finding your own voice.

Who’s really made it big in the States, from here? Zee Avi. Why? Because she’s Zee Avi, and there isn’t another one! She’s true to herself, with her own sound, and people here picked up on that.

New York drummer Danny Mallon in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah with the Johnny Rodgers Band for the KK Jazz Festival

Danny Mallon: I can’t resist!

We agreed it was good to know an artist can reach the public without a massive media giant behind her to begin with. The wonder of YouTube.

Oh, and here’s the JRB on YouTube, playing “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke,” at the festival press conference. Danny plays a piece of cardboard with his brushes… Sorry about the dodgy sound, Johnny’s harmonica blew out my phone mic.

Related stories

Johnny Rodgers Band in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah talking with music blog SabahSongs

JRB and SabahSongs, after the press conference

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