STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
Danielia Cotton just released the EP “A Prayer” (Cottontown, 2016), and it is Cotton’s most spiritually-infused album to date. But that certainly doesn’t mean the rocker has lost her edge.
Cotton has always been an amalgam of influences. She began singing Gospel music with her mother and aunts at age 12 and was also influenced by her mother’s jazz singing. But growing up African-American in nearly all-White Hopewell, NJ, exposed her to the rock music of AC/DC, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and others.
Cotton knew in her heart that she wanted to rock and her debut album “Small White Town” (Thirty Tigers, 2005) put her on the map. She got significant support locally from Philadelphia’s influential independent AAA radio station WXPN, which named her an Artist to Watch in 2005, in advance of the album’s release. And in 2006 the listeners of WXPN voted her one of the 885 All Time Greatest Artists; quite impressive since it was on the strength of that one recording.
Cotton has continued to tour and record, but life threw her a few curveballs. She had to deal with a miscarriage. And shortly after recording “The Gun in Your Hand” (Redeye, 2012) she received the news that she had thyroid cancer. She went public about both, not because she was looking for sympathy, but to maintain transparency with her fans.
“(Those experiences) just made me more aware of how valuable time is and that the daily choices we make in life are important,” said Cotton in an email interview.
Cotton followed up “The Gun in Your Hand” with “The Real Book,” (Cottontown Records, 2014), an album of covers. It includes duets with Tracy Bonham, Amy Helm and Rachael Yamagata.
“I figured I was due to do a covers albums and I love jumping into someone else’s story and making it your own,” said Cotton, whose repertoire has included versions of “Back in Black” and “Purple Rain.”
Cotton’s music has always covered themes that are very meaningful to her. Yet her personal and musical growth is evident on “A Prayer.”
“This new album is a definite evolution from my first album ‘Small White Town,’ in that I have grown as an artist and a human being in so many ways. I hope the songs (on my) albums and this EP tell the story of that growth and what I have been experiencing.”
Cotton, who is Jewish, has also become a Buddhist. The album cover of “A Prayer” is a photo of her sitting with a Buddha.
“The album cover was definitely inspired by my being a Buddhist,” said Cotton. “The Buddha in the picture is one I purchased soon after I began practicing Buddhism. I still remain a Jew, but I’m also a Buddhist, which I hear is quite common.
“As far as the album goes, I used ‘A Prayer,’ the last song on the EP… as the title (because it) seemed fitting thematically for what I was trying to say.”
Cotton is working on another EP, “The Answer to A Prayer.” She considers both EPs to be a complete album.
As for Cotton’s band, she said it “changes and evolves as time goes on. I try and choose musicians that like the music and are a good hang. It’s essential to have a good hang on the road.”
She added: “I hope to get out there a bit more all over the country and maybe even Europe.”
Cotton will be accompanied at Sellersville Theater by Kareem Delvin on guitar, Emmitt O’Malley on guitar, Chris Anderson on bass and Greg Gonzalo on drums.