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Singer/Songwriter Heidi of the Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders releases her first EP, “My Stupid Heart”

Heidi's recently released EP entitled <y Stupid Heart"

Heidi’s recently released EP entitled My Stupid Heart

Heidi followed her heart from California to Nashville to pursue her musical dream. A former cheerleader for the 49ers, Heidi moved to Tennessee and has been a Titans Cheerleader for the past three seasons, all the while also fulfilling her passion as a singer/songwriter. UltimateCheerleaders has followed Heidi from her rookie Titans season to taking the step to Kickstarter to assist the goal of her first recording.

Now Heidi has released her first EP, My Stupid Heart, available on iTunes at this link! My mini review is that you need the perfect songs as you hit the road this spring/summer, whether to energize your morning commute, or to play with the wind flying through your hair along the coast on Highway 1, My Stupid Heart is quintessential car music.

Heidi kindly shared with UltimateCheerleaders the story behind this accomplishment, but had a message for those that helped her pursue her dream. “First, I just want to thank all of my Kickstarter supporters!” Heidi expressed. “I could not have created this album without you guys, and I appreciate you believing in me! Each of these songs is as much yours as it is mine!”

UC-Tell us about each of the songs on the EP; what inspired each of them?

Heidi-Whenever I write a song, I think of a character. Who is this person? What happened to them, what do they feel, and what do they want? Sometimes the character is me, and sometimes the character is imagined, but I always channel my own feelings and experiences when fleshing out the story of each character in a song.

“My Stupid Heart” is the title track on the album. It’s about turmoil, and the feeling of wanting someone that doesn’t want you the same way. You want to let that person go, but you can’t. However, I didn’t want the song to be about being a victim, or about anger. In my own experience, I often go for the men who are exciting and passionate, even though I know that they aren’t interested in a real relationship. I love the challenge, but in the end, when I end up hurt, I only have myself to blame. Too many people like to blame the other person, but I think it’s really our stupid hearts that get us into trouble.

“I Don’t Cry” is a song about strength and power, and not letting another person diminish you. At the time that my co-writers, Luke Sheets and Kata Rhe Crutcher, and I wrote it, I was in the beginning stages of a breakup. In my life, most of my relationships have ended because I couldn’t be what the other person wanted me to be, and when that theme develops again and again, a person can start to think, “maybe I’m not enough”. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also gotten stronger. I’ve learned that we each have worth, and no person can give or take that worth away. Someone who doesn’t see that worth, does not deserve any tears. It’s not about not being able to cry, or not feeling anything, it’s about choosing not to waste your tears.

During one of our writing sessions, Luke started playing this lick on his guitar and the sound had this unexplainable feeling of hope and joy. I knew that whatever we wrote had to be uplifting, and that’s how “Don’t Give Up On Me” was born. We started talking about how people in Nashville have made it big just before they were about to give up. Lots of people on my journey told me that I would never make it as a pro cheerleader, and here I am in my fifth year in the NFL. If I had listened to them my life would be drastically different today. Lots of people have told me that I won’t make it in music, but I keep trying and pushing. Whatever your dream is, never let someone tell you that you “can’t.” Don’t give up! Dreams do come true!

“Diamond Street” is the song on the EP that’s nearest to my heart. It’s the only song on the EP where the story is one-hundred percent my own, and not imagined, and it was the most difficult to write. One summer in San Diego, I met a man who was in the city as part of a military special ops training course. He was only in town for a couple weeks, and we knew that when those weeks were over, we would be done, but those couple of weeks were magical. I took him to my favorite beach, Diamond Street, and he showed me how a man should really treat a woman, and we loved each other for that short time. On his last day, I watched him pack his bag, and I cried. My heart was broken for months after he left, but we never tried to contact each other. Two years later, I googled him, just to see what he was doing in life. Along with the page I’d seen before of him accepting a medal, I saw a page that took my breath away. The page reported that almost one year to the day we met, he had been killed in action in Afghanistan. Even though we couldn’t be together, I always imagined him out there in the world, maybe thinking of me, and then suddenly he was gone. He’ll always have a special place in my heart, and even though we didn’t last forever, in my heart he’ll always be on Diamond Street.

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UC-Most artists have a moment in their songwriting evolution when they first think they wrote something “good”; when was that moment for you?

Heidi-I think a lot of artists believe every song they write is good! (laughs) In all seriousness though, when you spend an hour or two in a writing session and you finally finish a song, it’s like your baby. It’s beautiful to you even if it’s the most ugly creation ever made (that or you’re just happy you’re finally done so you can leave! (laughs)). It’s not until some time goes by and I forget about the song and then re-listen to it later with fresh ears, that I can judge whether it’s trash or it belongs in my work tapes folder. Recently, I was going back through my songs, and I listened to a work tape I recorded with country artist Gabe Garcia. I wrote the lyrics on the plane to Nashville, and he put the lyrics to music. I think it’s actually good…which is saying a lot because a lot of the songs I wrote when I first moved to Nash aren’t amazing (laughs)

UC-Do you think back and wish you could change a lyric, or once a song is done, it is done in your mind?

Heidi-For the songs on my EP, I think we said exactly what we were trying to say. Those songs are definitely done in my mind. For songs in general, I think a song is always fluid and changing. Usually when I finish a co-write, the song is done, and we’ve all come to a consensus on the lyrics. Maybe I gave up something I wanted in this line, and the other writer gave up something in another line, but all in all, together, we have a finished product. However, if I thought of something better later, I would have no problem calling up my co-writer and seeing if he wanted to change a word or line. Maybe it is better, or maybe I’m crazy and it’s a terrible idea, but changing it is always an option. Or, say we wrote a song for a guy, and a woman was interested in using it, I would have no problem changing lyrics to fit the artist.

UC-What were the steps from having songs to getting them recorded? Who were the key people as co-writers, musicians, production staff, et cetera, that made the EP possible?

Heidi-For me, this EP was all about working with the right people. No artist, no matter how talented, can be successful without the right team of people. When my Kickstarter campaign to fund my EP was successful, I knew I had to find the right producer. Luckily for me, my Titans teammate Heather is married to country artist Ryan Kinder, and he recommended his friend and amazing producer/songwriter Luke Sheets. When I met with Luke I knew he shared my vision and he guided me in creating the sound and feelings that I wanted to portray on the EP. I had been writing songs for the EP since I moved to Nashville, but the songs we came up with together really communicated who I was as an artist, and Luke helped me hone in on my personal sound. From there, it was a matter of getting the right musicians together and getting everyone in the studio. We recorded at Curb Studios, and with funding in place, it was actually a quick process. Luke pulled some amazing musicians together and the tracks and vocals were done within a couple of weeks. Then we spent the next month mixing the tracks with Craig White at Curb, and before I knew it, the EP was done. It was a pretty incredible experience.

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UC-What are the best and worst parts about having a “Stupid Heart”, and how does it make you the person you are?

Heidi-My “stupid heart” definitely gets me into trouble. I tend to leap before I look and make decisions in love based on gut feelings and passion. I want what I want, when I want it, and I go after it. The downside of a stupid heart is that in love or in life in general, my feelings get invested in things or people that may not have my best interests at heart. However, that same bold and stupid heart is the reason that I’m able to take risks and chase after my dreams. My stupid heart pushed me to try out for the 49ers when everyone told me it was impossible. It led me to move across the country to audition for The Titans, and every day it pushes me to keep going after my crazy dream of a career in music. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my “stupid heart”.

UC-How big a part of moving to Nashville and starting your recording career has the TTC been in your assimilation and success?

Heidi-Being a part of The Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders has made a huge impact on both my music career and my transition to Nashville. When I first moved to Nashville, the TTC gave me an automatic group of friends, and those friendships have continued to be my biggest source of support and encouragement in my life. I’ve made lifelong friendships on this team, and I’m so grateful to be part of a community of strong, smart, and driven women. In my music career, the notoriety of the Titans has certainly opened up a lot of doors, but more than that, the support of my teammates and my coach, Stacie, has had the biggest impact on my music career. For example, my teammate Heather and her husband, Ryan, have spent years together navigating the muddy waters of the music industry, and they are a constant source of advice and support. Similarly, Stacie has years of experience in the entertainment industry, and is always pushing me to think bigger. I think the TTC has been integral to my success in Nashville, and my life would be very different today if I hadn’t made the team back in 2012.

UC-How have you changed from the woman who first drove from Cali to Nashville prior to your rookie season? Musically, vocally, and as a person?

Heidi-I think I’m still the same wide-eyed dreamer that packed everything in my little white Nissan and drove across the country to pursue a crazy dream, but I think I’m stronger. Every little setback makes me push harder to achieve my dreams. If anything, I think I believe even more strongly that with hard work and commitment, one can pursue one’s passions and be successful. When I first moved to Nashville, everything was an unknown possibility, but seeing how far I’ve come in three years, I feel like success is tangible, and I’m so excited to see what happens in the next few years!

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UC-What’s next?

Heidi-The next step for me is getting my music out there. I’m currently meeting with publishing and management companies, and my goal over the next couple of years is to build a team that I believe in as much as they believe in me. Right now I’m trying to find the right fit for me and my sound. It’s a really pivotal time in my career, and the choices I make now will have a lasting effect on my future. Throughout this process, I’m also always writing, learning, and growing as a songwriter and an artist.

UC-Now that you have been on this journey, what about the process surprised you, and what advice would you give others following their dream, in Nashville or elsewhere?

Heidi-One of the things that surprised me during the process was how much the studio musicians individually contributed to the album. I always imagined that these guys came in to the studio and played what they were told to play and left. In reality, not only did the band basically learn my song after hearing it once, which is amazing, but each member also brought his own style and ideas to the project. The final product is as much each of theirs as it is mine. They took my vision and gave it life.

To those following their dreams, I would say, whatever your passion is, go for it! You may fail, or you may be wildly successful, but you’ll never know if you never try. So many people in this world will try to bring you down or make you believe that your dream is impossible. If you are willing to put in the time and the work, I believe that dreams can come true!

Heidi during the last two seasons' Halloween games, showing her own star power

Heidi during the last two seasons’ Halloween games, showing her own star power

Thanks so much Heidi! And more photos of Heidi over the last two seasons are at this link.

Star Spangled Ben-Gal: Fourth year veteran Dana delights fans with singing of the National Anthem

Cincinnati Ben-Gal Dana is an accomplished singer

Last Sunday prior to the Bengals-Browns game, Dana of the Ben-Gals performed the Star-Spangled Banner, which was especially important as the NFL was honoring US veterans in stadia across the nation. Dana has a BFA in theatre and dance from the University of Miami (FL), and is an Outreach Consultant for a higher education software company. The talented fourth year Ben-Gal is an experienced singer, including winning a ten-week long singing contest sponsored by a local casino which gave her the opportunity to sing regularly at the casino.

Dana was kind enough to share with UltimateCheerleaders some of her feelings before, during, and after her performance last Sunday:

UC.com: How many times have you sung the Star Spangled Banner before? Ever before such a large crowd?

Dana: I sang the Star Spangled Banner in high school, and played it a million times in band (yes, I’m a band geek!), but never before a crowd as big as this one! I do sing regularly at Hollywood Casino, so I’m used to singing in front of crowds, but this is definitely the biggest crowd yet!

UC.com: Is it a challenging song to sing? How did you prepare for your performance at Paul Brown Stadium?

Dana: It can definitely be a challenging song to sing, but if you find the right key for you it can make it a lot easier. I practiced at home and in the car as much as I could, but I also met with my vocal coach a few times to make sure it was as perfect as it could be!

UC.com: Were you nervous at all pre-game?

Dana: I went between being nervous and excited for the entire week before the game. I think what kept me calm was the fact that we are out on the field all the time during practices and games, so it just felt like another day out there. Once you are down on the field, you feel kind of separated from the crowd, so it was easy to go into my own little bubble. I did not perform in the pre-game routine with the other ‘Gals because I would have been winded for the anthem, but while they were performing the nerves kicked in a little bit, however, once I stepped in front of the mike, somehow the stress melted away and I felt really at ease. It also helped that I had my fellow Ben-Gals in my sight line while performing; it is weird being out on the field without them! We are sort of like a security blanket for each other!

UC.com: Was it challenging to sing in November weather?

Dana: It was not challenging to perform in the weather. We were really lucky that the rain decided to go away for the first half of the game (the same cannot be said for the second half…). When I did my sound check at 10:30 in the morning it was drizzling, so we were debating whether or not we would use an umbrella, if necessary. Thankfully, the rain held off and the temperature was fairly comfortable by 1:00, so there really were no issues at all!

UC.com: How can you prepare for the acoustics of a big stadium, and the echo?

Dana: Oh, the dreaded echo! This was what had me the most nervous leading up to Sunday. I knew about the echo; there is about a one to two second delay between what you say and what the crowd hears. It definitely posed a challenge. Have you heard of that new app called Speech Jammer? It’s a lot like that! I practiced several times with the radio blaring to try to get myself to focus on my own lyrics as opposed to what was going on around me. I learned ahead of time that they do not have any type of monitor on the field, so I decided to bring earplugs. I forgot to bring the earplugs out to the sound check and ended up having to hold my ears closed so that I could ensure I was hearing myself correctly and staying on pitch. The earplugs did help when I sung it at game time, so I definitely recommend that to anyone who may sing the anthem in a stadium in the future!

UC.com: How did it feel to hear the cheers at the end?

Dana: Every time I hear the national anthem, I get excited when the crowd gets into it and starts cheering. In the moment that I was singing it, I was kind of ‘in-the-zone’ because I didn’t want to mess up, but when I finally got to the big note at the end and realized that the crowd was cheering, it really fired me up! I think that the lyrics and the song, itself are so inspiring that it tends to fire everyone up on its own, but to be the lucky one who gets to sing it is a feeling that is indescribable! On top of everything else, this was our military game, so it was such a huge honor to be the one that got to sing our national anthem during the game which honored those who fight for our freedom.

UC.com: Which family and friends were at the game?

Dana: I had a lot of family and friends at the game: my husband, my parents, step-parents, in-laws, several of my sisters, my brother-in-law, an uncle, and friends of the family were there, along with other friends who happened to be in the crowd that day. I was allowed to bring four people down on the field with me, so I brought my dad, since he is the one who always watched Bengals games growing up and turned me into the huge fan that I am today (plus it was his birthday!), my older sister, who is also a huge Bengals fan and loves football, my husband, who has supported me the entire time I have been on the squad and who comes to every game to see me, and my father-in-law, who has taken me in as part of the family since day one, and who also happens to be an Air Force Veteran. It was an honor to have him down on the field for the military game!

UC.com: If you were going to start a Ben-Gal singing group, which of your Ben-Gals sisters also are talented vocalists?

Dana: If I were to start a Ben-Gals singing group, I’d definitely have Maria B. singing with me; she is amazing! I’d also have Jessica and Katie as my backup singers/dancers; they always sing and goof around, so I have joked many times that they need to be my backup singers for the anthem! I’m sure there are other talented singers on the squad, so maybe we need to have another karaoke night to figure out who they are!

No doubt!

Click on the image below to hear Dana’s absolutely amazing rendition of our National Anthem! Her family, friends, and Ben-Gal sisters must have been so proud upon hearing such a powerful performance. Thanks Dana for sharing your thoughts about such a wonderful moment on a grand stage!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5ku4AY4d6s&feature=share[/youtube]

Titans Cheerleader Heidi is ready to high kick start the next phase of her musical journey

Last fall, we featured Heidi of the Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders. Heidi is a native Californian who formerly was part of the 49ers’ Gold Rush, but journeyed east to Nashville to pursue her musical dreams. Heidi’s career continues to progress, including trying out for America’s Got Talent in December and making it through the Nashville City round! Heidi tried out as a duo with another local musician, Seth Costner, who plays keys and back up vocals for Lauren Alaina. They are awaiting America’s Got Talent’s next round of decisions.

This week Heidi launched her Kickstarter website (at this link), with the goal of raising funds for her debut album. If you haven’t heard of it, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects, where ideas are brought to life through the direct support of others. For music, it gives consumers the power to choose what artists/music they want to support and would like to hear more. The interesting thing is that it is based on all or nothing funding, so Heidi only receives funds if the project is 100% funded by the deadline.

Check out the site to learn more about Heidi, her music, and the Kickstarter campaign!

Bloomington Edge Dancer Rachel lives, and gives, a life of music

Rachel dances on the basketball court for the Central Illinois Drive Dance Team


As a musical director at an elementary school, Rachel utilizes the “Orff Schulwerk” method, which combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons that are similar to a child’s world of play. Rachel not only teaches this unified view of arts and life, she lives life with an “Orff Schulwerk” approach! With a degree in voice, playing guitar and piano, and having lead roles in plays, Rachel has added dancing for the IFL Bloomington Edge and PBL Central Illinois Drive Dance Teams to complete her own life of music. Singing, dancing, acting, teaching, and being a wife and mom to a little boy seem like way enough, but luckily for Bloomington’s indoor football and basketball fans, Rachel also takes her talents to pro cheer/dance. Rachel shared with UltimateCheerleaders parts of her musical life’s journey, including how performing in a play staged next to a zoo can provide unexpected sensory experiences, and why you might want to give her a call if you are planning a wedding.

Rachel is an Illinois native, as she recalls, “I grew up out in the country about forty-five minutes from the Bloomington area, in a small town called Fairbury. We had livestock when I was a kid, so I spent a lot of time out playing in the barn and with the animals.”

The animals probably heard some singing along the way, as music surrounded much of Rachel’s young life, as she remembers, “My mom plays the piano for church and my aunt sings with a small women’s group, as well as plays the piano. My mom worked Saturdays when I was growing up, so we used to go down to my grandma’s. She had a piano, so I would get out my mom’s and aunt’s old piano books and give little concerts in my grandma’s living room. I guess I was a self-inspired musician. The piano always interested me, the same with singing. I didn’t really go any further with singing until I was in Junior High. Then I joined chorus and did solo & ensemble. I think that was when my interest went more towards singing.”

While she was growing up, Rachel’s family dealt with the challenges of a caring for a loved one that required extensive attention. “I had one other sibling, Megan, who was born with a rare genetic disorder,” Rachel explains. “She was pretty much an infant her entire life. She could never walk or talk or do much on her own. In a sense, I was an only child, not that I didn’t have a sibling, but I never was able to do the things that most siblings get to do because her of disability. My parents spent much of their time taking care of my sister. My parents both loved me and I think that much of my independence as an adult comes from that experience as a child. She passed away when I was in eighth grade.”

But music provided Rachel an outlet for performance and creativity, and the life lessons to learn from mistakes, for instance in her first public singing performance. “In seventh grade I performed ‘Baby Mine’ from ‘Dumbo’ at Solo & Ensemble. I messed up the words and ended up getting a second place. I was really mad at myself for doing that. I don’t think I ever messed up any words after that.”

Rachel’s singing continued as she participated in various groups during high school in addition to her church choir. Rachel studied at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and sang with the University Singers, University Choir, and Women’s Glee Club, prior to graduating with a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education.

Rachel’s musical talents also include playing piano and guitar, and applying her singing talents to the stage. “I took piano lessons starting in second or third grade,” explains Rachel. “I am an adequate piano player, but I guess my real passion is for singing. I did five musicals when I was in school: ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,’ a dancer in ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ Marty in ‘Grease,’ Sprintze in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ and my senior year, I was the Evil Step Mother in ‘Cinderella.’ I never really had any major rolls until I was an adult.”

“After college I was Peter Pan in ‘Peter Pan,’ Maria in ‘West Side Story,’ and Mrs. MacAfee in ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’” Rachel continues. “The funny part about that is first I did ‘West Side Story’ in 2007, and my leading man was a senior in high school, and I was 24 at the time. The worst part of it was that his dad was the director. It was kind of awkward kissing him. The weird part of it is that when I did ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ the dad was my ‘husband,’ playing Mr. MacAfee.”

So Rachel, when playing Peter Pan, did you get to soar over the stage? “Ha,” laughs Rachel. “No, I actually wore ‘wheelies,’ the tennis shoes that have the wheels in the back of them. The theatre is basically a garage on a big cement platform, so there are very limited special effects. It was outdoors and by the zoo. It was very hot during our performances, and if the wind was just right, you got a great whiff of the animals at the zoo.”

Continue reading Bloomington Edge Dancer Rachel lives, and gives, a life of music

Give the brand new Danger Love Saint video a test “Drive”

Titans Cheerleaders Bri, Jessi, and Clair; Danger Love Saint

During last year’s NFL season, UltimateCheerleaders had the wonderful opportunity to interview three Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders who comprised the country girl group, Danger Love Saint, and learned their path from an idea to musically deal with off-season performance antsiness to eventually become the Titans Cheerleaders performance band. During the time we were interviewing them for Part 1 and Part 2, they were literally in the studio and on location to prepare for their debut video “Drive.”

Well, the time has arrived to see the product of these efforts. Danger Love Saint released their debut music video last week, and you can watch the “Drive” music video on this link and download the song on iTunes. Next week, Danger Love Saint is booked to perform on Nashville’s famous Billy Block Show and at the Gift of Music Charity event, opening for Billy Currington, Ronny Milsap, and Phil Vassar. You can learn more about Danger Love Saint and their up coming concerts at www.DangerLoveSaintMusic.com or at www.Facebook.com/DangerLoveSaint.

Way to go DLS, it looks super!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaVAYwUcSw8&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Ali Dee Needs Your Help to Produce Her First CD!

Former Sea Gal and Sonics Dancer Ali Dee makes her case:

Hi its me, Ali Dee, a singer/songwriter from Texas and CMT’s Texas Women 🙂 I am ready to share my new music with the world!!! Only one little teensy weensy problem… I need your help to raise to moola to make it happen!! Record labels can spend upwards of $80,000-$500,000 smackers to get their artists albums made, I am asking for a tiny portion of that because I have folks that believe in me and are willing to knock off some change here and there to make it happen. I’ve got some of the best people lined up to make incredible music, I just want to be able to pay them what they deserve to help me make my dreams come true…

HERE IS WHERE YOU COME IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have the best fans in the entire universe and if you look to your right you will see lots of cool REWARDS I have set up to give away in order to collect the dollars to make this thing a go. Browse, pick, and then donate whatever you can and know you are a part of helping this gal get to where she wants to be, the top of the charts!!

A few quick notes: We only have 30 short days to meet our goal of $15,000 so PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!!!!! NONE of the funding goes through unless we raise the entire $15,000. If each of my facebook (16,000+) fans donate a small amount we can do this in no time! Any money raised over the $15,000 will go directly to the cost of printing/touring/marketing the record.

So DEE TEAM: Dig into your pocketbooks (or man purses) and LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!

XOXO

Ali Dee

[Ali Dee on Kickstarter]

Danger Love Saint, Part 2: Three Voices, Three Personalities, One Sisterhood

Danger Love Saint: Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders Jessi, Clair, and Bri

Jumping full force into the Nashville music scene with their debut single, “Drive,” Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders Bri, Clair, and Jessi comprise the female country group, Danger Love Saint. Though they came together to form the group over the past couple of years, Danger Love Saint is the culmination of each of their individual, lifelong passions for music and entertainment. In Part 1 of their interview with UltimateCheerleaders, Jessi discussed her path as it merged with her talented friends Bri and Clair to create Danger Love Saint (DLS). With the support and mentoring of Titans Cheerleader Director Stacie Kinder, DLS is making the most of a unique opportunity. As they take the stage to be both a hot, new Nashville act while also being the Titans Cheerleaders performance group, in Part 2, Bri, Clair, and Jessi share with us their musical influences, their songwriting style, what it is like to sing at halftime during a Titans game, and Bri compares/contrasts her Titans experience with performing on another NFL team, the Charger Girls.

Bri, Clair, and Jessi are all third-year Titans Cheerleaders, and the idea of forming a musical group started right after their rookie season. Immediately they noticed that they had a unique sound when they first began harmonizing. They realized that, although their voices as individuals are quite unique to one another, collectively, they just plain worked. After DLS recorded their first demo, “Quarterback Crush” (which was heard in the opening credits of Jessi’s World of Jenks episode), they were all in shock as to how amazing they sounded as a group. That was the moment they knew they had something very special.

Bri is originally from the West Coast, growing up in Keizer, Oregon. Her musical talents budded early, as Bri recalls, “I started playing the piano at age three and picked up the guitar shortly after.” Dancing began for Bri even earlier, saying, “As soon as I could walk! My mother owned a Jazzercize studio, and that was my daycare: leotards, tights, and leg warmers. I never stopped moving to or loving music. My family is very musical. I have an aunt that is the former musical director for Western Oregon University. Between her tutelage and my love for playing instruments, winding up in Nashville was destiny.” Besides receiving the gift of musical talent, Bri also treasures her family’s support of her endeavors, saying, “My family has been so supportive of my dreams and the path that I have chosen.”


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJWz2MpMgKI&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Danger Love Saint with a very special shout out to all of the Ultimate Cheerleaders

Clair is originally from Clinton, Mississippi, and began singing and dancing at the age of three. Clair spent her youth in the musical theatre circuit of Mississippi, with credits that include Grease, Newsies, and West Side Story. She later toured all over the country in the elite Mississippi show choir, Attache. Clair is a graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in Marketing. Since moving to Nashville, Clair was chosen to grace the cover of the Titans Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar.

As described in Part 1, originally from Cocoa Beach, Florida, Jessi grew up studying music and dance. Jessi’s voluminous list of credits include Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance as a finalist, starring in Glorianna’s new video, “Wanna Take You Home,” and being featured on MTV’s World of Jenks, in addition to being a dancer with Christina Aguilera and Omarion, and on awards shows like BET and, recently with Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, the Country Music Awards in Nashville. Jessi’s training as a performer includes the Broadway Dance Center in New York and The Edge and Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles.

As you can see, with lives stretching from coast to coast, from Oregon to the Atlantic coast of Florida, three young women were on separate musical journeys that would eventually converge in Music City. Now with their own first recording released, hey Danger Love Saint, what was your first ever album as young music fanatics? For Clair, it was Shania Twain, “The Woman in Me.” Jessi’s first album was by another musical trio of three women expressing three emotional states, TLC’s “CrazySexyCool.” Bri’s first album was for all of the right reasons someone gets their first album. It was Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby,” as Bri remembers, “It was a birthday present, I liked his hair!”

Clair during the October 23rd Titans home game

Bri’s started out performing in Oregon, but soon was seeing the world. “Highlights for me as a musician have been traveling to Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar entertaining my heroes, the United State Military,” says Bri. “I come from a military family and am an active member of The Sweethearts for Soldiers. As a dancer I have performed at live shows and music videos including Trace Adkins, The European Sensation: Plan B, Brad Paisley, and John Rich. I will be traveling to Kuwait once again in December with The Sweethearts for a Christmas Tour to entertain the very last Americans to leave Iraq.”

Being a Titans Cheerleader is not the first time that Bri has performed on the NFL sidelines. Prior to Nashville, life brought her to southern California, and Bri was a San Diego Charger Girl. “I was a Charger Girl for two years,” shares Bri. “I always wanted to be a professional cheerleader, so when I moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University, I worked very hard to prepare for the Charger Girl Auditions.”

Bri graduated from San Diego State University, with a degree in Communications and minor in Dance. When Nashville was her next destination, returning to the NFL sidelines was also part of this latest stage of Bri’s life. “It was a blessing for me to move to another great city that had a NFL team, when I moved to Nashville,” Bri explains. “I traveled to the south to explore songwriting and becoming a country singer. It just worked out that one week after I moved here, the 2009 Titans Cheerleading auditions were beginning. I knew that trying out for another team would be a fun way to make friends, get plugged in to the community, and continue performing for my favorite sport.”

During the October 23rd game, Bri and the Titans Cheerleaders wore their breast cancer awareness outfits

Continue reading Danger Love Saint, Part 2: Three Voices, Three Personalities, One Sisterhood

Danger Love Saint, Part 1: The World of Jessi

Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders Bri, Jessi, and Clair on Danger Love Saint's disc cover for their new single

If you are looking for some “Drive,” look no further than Danger Love Saint. Three third-year Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders, Bri, Clair, and Jessi, formed Danger Love Saint, their Nashville based trio, and they have the drive to put their heart and soul into their musical venture, the drive to have maximal fun during this adventure, and “Drive” is also the title of their recently released debut single. Bri, Clair, and Jessi have a collective sum total of coolness that is way, way too much for a single feature story, so today, the focus is on Jessi, who is no stranger the spotlight, on stage or otherwise. Jessi was featured in the MTV documentary series, World of Jenks (check out the episode clicking here) which, though definitely her own story, also shows many common dimensions of the reality of the pro cheerleader experience. Jessi also has an impressive dance resume, including being a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance, amidst scores of other credits. Jessi shared with UltimateCheerleaders how World of Jenks came about, how her time with the Pussycat Dolls started the wheels turning to form Danger Love Saint, how a dance job brought her through the Panama Canal, how to spot an excellent dancer, and how Jessi’s sister turns a traditional Christmas song into comedy gold.

Jessi grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and soon enough was showing the traits that would eventually lead to Danger Love Saint; Jessi loves to put on a show. “When I was four years old, I used to make my whole family come into the living room, and I would put on shows on our fireplace, it was my stage,” recalls Jessi. “I would make my sister sell tickets for the show. I would go to my mom’s closet, and make costumes out of all of her clothes, tie my dad’s ties around as a belt. I was doing that at four years old and I never really stopped. I still love to design costumes, do hair and makeup, choreograph, and perform. It’s just not dancing; I love the whole creative aspect of trying to entertain people.”

Jessi started dance classes when she was young, and although her parents were willing to broaden her activities, it always came back to dance. Jessi remembers, “My parents tried to put me into other things, like Girl Scouts, tee-ball, swimming, and tennis, and I was always saying, ‘Can I just take ballet? I just want to take ballet class.’”


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJWz2MpMgKI&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Danger Love Saint with a very special shout out to all of the Ultimate Cheerleaders

Singing also became one of Jessi’s passions. “I started singing in fourth grade in chorus, and just loved it, loved it,” Jessi says. “I tried out for all-state and all-county, and was in all those kind of choirs. I was in a site reading choir. And I always have a private voice coach, and I was a music major in college. I was always much better naturally at dancing, but I just loved studying music. I played the violin for about five years, and I played viola. I was the orchestra/choir geek all through school. I cheered one year in high school, but definitely more the drama, band, orchestra geeky kid.”

After winning a noted state dance high school competition in Florida, Jessi was chosen to go to New York to the Broadway Dance Center scholarship program and Marymount Manhattan College. But after her first year, September 11th occurred, and Jessi’s family persuaded her to move back home from New York.

Coming home from NYC, Jessi danced on a cruise ship for a year, and was able to see a big chunk of the globe. “I was really lucky,” Jessi says. “I did a world itinerary, so I was able to see Australia, New Zealand, maybe a dozen different countries in Asia, all of the South Pacific islands, San Francisco, Alaska. I went through the Panama Canal, Central America, South America. So I looked at it as a cool opportunity.”

Jessi during the October 23rdTitans game against the Texans

Dancing on the cruise line also showed Jessi a broader scope of performing. “I was only 19,” Jessi explains. “I walked in thinking, I love pop, top 40s, hip hop, all this stuff, and I was way out of my element. They said, ‘You need to calm down, because this is Music Man, Le Mis, and Annie Get Your Gun.’ I was really out of my element, but I loved it.”

Post-cruise year, Jessi returned to the US and majored in music. “Then just kind of on a whim, I auditioned for this show called Wade Robson Project that was on MTV for one season,” Jessi says. “It was for dancers, and I got that and it shot in LA, so I moved out to LA for the summer to shoot that show, and then ended up staying for six more years.”

During that time in Los Angeles, Jessi built up a substantial resume of dance accomplishments, such that if they all were listed, it would break the record for the world’s longest run-on sentence. Besides being one of the finalists on the third season of the So You Think You Can Dance, Jessi has also danced for Christina Aguilera and the Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Revue. Jessi’s connection to the Pussycat Dolls was a key experience that eventually led her to create Danger Love Saint. “I did that for two years, it was the last big job I did in LA,” Jessi recalls about the Pussycat Dolls. “They had a subgroup in Vegas, and then they had the top group, and then they created a new subgroup in LA, and we performed at the Viper Room. And also whenever the top group was requested at certain appearances and they couldn’t, we were the group that went instead. Robin Antin created the Pussycat Dolls, and it was her idea to have groups of Pussycat Dolls everywhere, like a club in New York, a club in Miami, one in Vegas, one in LA, and we were the first group she started.”


Continue reading Danger Love Saint, Part 1: The World of Jessi

Angie’s List of Accomplishments Goes Beyond Singing to Include Titans Cheerleader

Angie prior to the October 23rd game against the Texans

Singing is a core part of Angie’s soul, but she listens to her heart on how best to progress towards her musical goals. Therefore, her path does not always take the steps that others expect. So far, the journey that started in her hometown near Bay City, Michigan, has taken Angie to Nashville, aka “Music City,” aka “Nashvegas.” But Angie inserted a twist into a singer’s journey, and added being a Tennessee Titans Cheerleader as an opportunity to combine her performer’s passion with her love of football. Bright and articulate, Angie shared with UltimateCheerleaders her experiences of being a young woman finding her voice in Nashville, how her grandfather’s letters show that leaving home to do what one needs to do runs in her family, her admiration of a Beatle, and her hometown’s connection to a group that was hyped as “the new Beatles.”

The hometowns of this season’s Titans Cheerleaders are from every possible different direction from Nashville, and Angie, along with Yalea, hails from Michigan. “I grew up in a small community in Michigan just outside of Bay City called Kawkawlin,” Angie says. “I lived there throughout my childhood until I moved to Nashville to pursue my singing career at 22 years old.” Bay City seems to be doing its darnedest to become “pro cheerleader capital of the world,” with Angie on the Titans, and three members of the unofficial Detroit Pride Cheerleaders. Angie comments on her home state team and their cheerleaders, “I know (Detroit Pride Cheerleader) Megan, we grew up together. With the season they are having, I’m really, really excited for Detroit in general, and the girls that are part of that. I hope that they can officially be cheerleaders.”

For Angie, her first “spotlights” as a singer were the lights in her own home. “Singing has always been an integral part of my life,” recalls Angie. “At two years old, I began performing for my first audience, my family. My parents and older brother have always been my biggest fans. I walked around the house with my Fisher-Price microphone and hand held speaker, belting out the lyrics to many of Whitney Houston’s top hits. I spent countless hours ‘entertaining’ family and friends with my favorite hits of Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, and anything Classic Hollywood.”

Angie (second from right) during player introductions

But outside of the home, Angie was a shy girl, but luckily a teacher saw the signs of a future performer. “It was my first grade teacher who gave me my first ‘true’ performance opportunity,” remembers Angie. “I went to a private Catholic school and was involved in the children’s choir. We were rehearsing for an upcoming Christmas program and the choir director decided to give me the role as the soloist. I remember being so tiny that two older children in the choir had to help me onto a milk crate so I could reach the microphone. I was six years old and my solo was ‘Jesus Is Beautiful.’”

And has been seen time and time again, “shy” does not mean a lack of talent and ambition, and Angie found her comfort zone singing in front of audiences. “I knew at a very young age I wanted to be an entertainer,” explains Angie. “When the lights were on and the stage was mine, it was difficult to get me off the stage. The more applause, the more I wanted to continue entertaining. This was very different from my personality when eyes were not on me. I grew up as a very shy girl who usually only spoke when spoken to. My school and singing teachers found it hard to believe that this soft-spoken, shy girl was the same person who stole the show when on any stage.”

Singing has always been important to Angie, but she has also always seen “the big picture” that success in life requires multiple endeavors. “From a young age, being in the ‘spotlight’ was always a part of my life whether it was singing my first solo in kindergarten, participating in musical theater, or competing in many talent pageants across the state,” Angie says. “Throughout my childhood, I performed as much as possible. Singing at church-related events and at community activities was a regular experience for me. I continued to keep this focus into my teenage years, but also knew how important my studies were, being involved in the community through volunteer opportunities, my integral role on the high school cheerleading squad, and my first job as a sales clerk at a department store. Even with this busy schedule, my dedication to music continued to grow.”

Angie spent much of the October 23rd game in LP Field suites, including the suite of Titans owner Bud Adams


Continue reading Angie’s List of Accomplishments Goes Beyond Singing to Include Titans Cheerleader

Former Dolphins Cheerleader in Adaras Magazine

melissabdolphinsFormer Miami Dolphins Cheerleader turned rocker Melissa Burnos is interviewed about her music career in the latest issue of Adaras Magazine. The online version of the interview is posted in one of those fancy e-magazines that’s impossible to cut and past, but you can read it all here.

[Melissa at MySpace]

[Melissa at itunes]

[Melissa at Amazon.com]

Former Dolphins Cheerleader Releases Single

nmeFormer Miami Dolphins Cheerleader Melissa Burnos has released a new single, NME.

Download NME from Amazon.com. Coming soon to iTunes.

[MelissaBurnos.com]