With a personality as vibrant as her bright red hair and a sultry voice and style that was reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour, Dani Armstrong was touring the country and world with Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ) while being based out of Los Angeles. Dani had been touring with PMJ for three years, spent eight to ten months a year on the road with them, and was supposed to move to Germany in September. She had just signed a contract with the Palazzo Cabaret in Berlin as their new lead singer and her thoughts were: “It’s a lifelong goal. It’s like Cirque du Soleil on crack.” Her career was on an upward trajectory towards once in a lifetime opportunities when the pandemic hit.
The pandemic took the shine away
Dani was performing in Los Angeles in February when she noticed a change in how they did meet and greets after the shows. She explained, “The regulation started coming in from the venues. Try not to shake hands; try not to put your arms around people when you take photos.” She also observed a change in the way she was doing costume fittings for the Palazzo Cabaret. “I was in full costume mode, which means I was doing fittings every single day all day. Then my costume lady was like, ‘Let’s just do meetings over Skype and look at pieces.’” That’s when Dani knew she needed to look more into what was going on and within a week of those shifts, Los Angeles issued the Safer at Home order.
During that time, Dani thought that the pandemic would pass and life would return to normal. “At that point, I was just thinking, even if we’re kind of closed down to the summer, I still have Germany coming up. That’s the chance of a lifetime opportunity where it comes to the security and comfort of being able to say, I’ll pay for everything. Everything’s going to be fine. I’ve got this great contract. So I was still under the impression that maybe we just get through the summer and things might be closed. The day was a Saturday when I got an email from the Palazzo saying, we’re not doing a season this season. We hope you come back in two thousand twenty one.”
Hollywood glamour was fading and life wasn’t returning to normal
After about six to eight weeks of being stuck at home and with the cancelation of the season in Germany, Dani recognized that she was not going to be touring for a long time. She decided to leave Los Angeles and move to Michigan. “My family’s from the Detroit area, so we hightailed it, sublet our place, came back to Detroit and moved into a house here to just be a family until who knows what happens.” So at the end of May, she, her boyfriend and her two cats left Los Angeles and drove to Michigan.
Now that she cannot perform live, Dani has shifted her focus to the internet. “So you’re seeing this glorious afternoon beat. You see that everyone’s posting videos and stuff. So I’m taking a part in a lot of group vocal projects, donating my time. Also, I have a Patreon Channel, which is like a personal Netflix. People subscribe to my channel for so much a month; they get to watch videos of me singing and behind the scenes, questions and answers. They could request songs. Since the pandemic, I’ve put a lot more focus into that because I’m not touring full time around the world. That’s been nice because I’ve been lucky enough, with Postmodern Jukebox, to go all over the world, last few years. So I’ve got fans in part of the world that you just typically wouldn’t, being a singer in L.A. only. So connecting with people through my patreon channel; we have a Skype group call. Now, this is my life.”
Shifting the connection with fans
Beyond singing, Dani has other parts to her business. “I do Skype vocal coaching. I had a lot of students that just wanted to sign up at any kind of connection, any kind of music, any kind of anything. They couldn’t come to see me in person or go see their coaches. So I saw a huge influx of clients come in for vocal coaching with me. Now in the last two, three and a half weeks, I started to see the appointments come in a little less. My students overseas are opening up. They’re getting their jobs back. But American students are not realizing that they’re not going to have a normal soon enough.”
“And then as a singer, I just feel life is sad. So I’m hoping that because I’ve taken the time to create personal relationships with my people, my friends, my fans. I hate saying that word; but, I’ve been lucky enough that I’m in a band that has eight million YouTube subscribers and a billion views. We have fans on the Internet. It’s why we got to where we are, that I’m able to create that relationship and maintain that relationship. So I see more influx personally and support both financially. I haven’t done any online concerts; I’m just doing my patreon. But then as a professional coach, I saw the influx of everything.”
What the future holds
When asked how she views the future, Dani responded, “I’m worried that I’m never going to have a career again. I keep talking about this new medium, which I already have a leg into because my band’s famous on YouTube. But again, I’m just one of the singers of the band. I’m worried that I’m never gonna be able to be at Radio City Music Hall and sing again. I’m worried that I’ll never be able to tell stupid jokes and make fun of my arm blubbering on stage, which is a bit I do and it’s a killer. It makes you think of all the things you took for granted, especially as an entertainer.”
Dani looks forward to returning to full Hollywood glamour but in the meantime, she makes do with the connections she can.
Read another story about an entertainer who chased his dream only to find his family.