Country music artist, CCA alumna Dani-elle Kleha began music career at CCA

Dani-elle's Josie Music Award

Dani-elle Kleha began singing at the age of 3 with a rendition of “Angels Among Us” for her church audience and hasn’t stopped performing since. She describes herself as a “modern country artist with a bit of a throwback from ‘90s country.”

Dani-elle, 20, is a Lackawanna County native who calls Nashville, Tennessee, her second home. She graduated from Commonwealth Charter Academy in 2014 – but she didn’t wait for a high school diploma to start her career.

She’s a songwriter, musician (playing guitar and piano) and award-winning performing artist. After she fell in love with music at an early age, Dani-elle and her family knew it was what she was born to do. She continued to perform throughout her childhood and even had a brief stint under the bright lights of the Broadway stage.

Ultimately, Dani-elle knew that country music was her niche. When she was 12, she began the first of countless trips to Nashville to take voice lessons from renowned vocal coach Renee Grant Williams.

In 2013, Dani-elle released her first album, titled “Eleven.” She wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, a process that she says came naturally. “Every song on my album tells a story. There’s a song for every occasion — inspiration is all around as far as music goes.” She says that sometimes the lyrics came to her first; other times, the music.

She has pre-opened for the top names in country music — from Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean to Dierks Bentley and Little Big Town. Last year, Dani-elle, who has been a Country Music Association member since she was 13, attended her first Josie Music Awards show as a nominee. She walked away with the Country Female Rising Artist of the Year award.

This year, Dani-elle was ecstatic to perform one of her singles, “Dream Inside,” along with her band at the prestigious Schermerhorn Symphony Center. She was shocked when her name was called as the 2016 Modern Country Female Artist of the Year award winner. “It was a total surprise and an extremely surreal experience. I’m honored to hold this title that was voted on by industry professionals in a city that I love,” she says.

Dani-elle credits CCA’s teachers and flexible schedule for her ability to embark on a whirlwind career before graduating from high school. As she started her senior year at a brick-and-mortar school, she was being approached to travel more frequently and had opportunities to head to radio stations with early-morning wakeup calls. “I came to a point where my career schedule was conflicting with my strict school schedule, and teachers weren’t willing to work with me.”

After hearing recommendations for CCA, the Kleha family sought more information from the local office — and a week later, Dani-elle was enrolled. “CCA allowed me to juggle music and schooling and even gave me the option to take Juilliard classes, which I absolutely loved.”

Dani-elle says her teachers were engaged and involved, willing to give any additional support she needed. “I had the best teachers. They always offered me a helping hand and would often ask about my latest shows and how everything was going. I felt that the teachers were invested in you as a person, not just school-wise but also wanting you to do well career-wise and in your personal life.”

As far as future plans, Dani-elle dreams of going on tour to connect with fans, receiving a CMA nomination someday and, most important, “continue having fun and loving to do what I do.”