Hailing from Miami, Florida, rapper, singer and songwriter DaniLeigh has been putting in work under the radar for years and now it seems like her hard work and dedication are finally paying off.
Despite the instant popularity she gained from the mega-viral hit “Easy (Remix),” featuring R&B icon Chris Brown in 2019, which has now amassed over 224M views on YouTube, there is so much more to unpack about the 26-year-old musician and her rise to superstardom.
Born Danielle Leigh Curiel to Dominican parents, DaniLeigh solidified her spot in today’s R&B and hip-hop scene through a mixture of hustle and good fortune. As a young girl, she trained herself to sing by doing covers of her favorite artists such as Drake, Jhene Aiko, and Alicia Keys and posted them on YouTube.
Focused on making her a well-rounded artist, her mother, Vicky Curiel, enlisted DaniLeigh in dance classes at the age of 12. After discovering she had a real passion for performing, her mother decided to move to Los Angeles for a month while her dad stayed in Orlando managing their family’s restaurant. It’s that parental love, sacrifice and support that DaniLeigh says led to her success.
“My mom was a street dancer in New York City like she’s my inspiration...and then my dad, his sisters, used to sing in church and his dad’s name is Beethoven. They definitely were super musical,” said DaniLeigh during a virtual interview forBET Origins. “It’s definitely in our blood even with us growing up there would always be music in the house. I swear I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for my parents.”
Almost immediately after the move, DaniLeigh found her first gig by becoming half of the pop duo Curly Fryz. After collaborating with several choreographers, she soon caught the attention of the one and only, Prince.
“I made my way in the dance industry by just being out there and working with different artists that Prince ended up finding me when I was 18 and he reached out to me. He wanted me to direct his music video. He never told me where he found me,” she explained during an appearance on the Breakfast Club.
After establishing herself as an undeniable talent, DaniLeigh was offered a contract from Def Jam Records. From there, she released her first major EP: Summer With Friends, which dropped in 2017.
In 2018, she produced her first album: “The Plan”, which held her two first major singles: “Lil’ Bebe” and “Easy” with the later featuring guest appearances from Lil’ Baby, YBN Nahmir and Lil’ Yachty.
In the same year, DaniLeigh went viral on Instagram after she nailed the “In My Feelings” challenge, which helped her to strengthen her following by over 200K+ followers. The viral sensation then found herself as the opening act for Teyana Taylor’s KTSE tour.
In 2019, the songstress made her first introduction to the BET Social Awards stage with her performance of her single: “Lil Bebe.”
As of late 2020, DaniLeigh is still moving and shaking with the debut of her second LP: MOVIE, which has two chart-topping singles: “Levi High” (Ft. Da Baby) and “Dominican Mami” (Ft. Fivio Foreign).
From her humble beginnings to where she is today, DaniLeigh has made tremendous strides in her career. Her dedication as an entertainer garnered her a nomination for “Best New Artist” at the 2020 BET Awards. Although she didn’t win, being recognized in this way as a new artist is a testament to her undebatable talent and indicative of where she’s headed.
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As the 2021 BET Awards inches towards us, DaniLeigh is a leading star in the modern-day league of female R&B/hip hop artists to surface in recent years. By blending sublime choreography with melodic flows and glossy vocals, DaniLeigh has shown that she is a gifted, multitalented newcomer ready to give a lot to her craft with zero plans of stopping anytime soon.
Watch the 20th BET Awards on Sunday, June 27 at 8/9C.
(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)