Name: Dana Wield
Marital status: Married to Jonathan (seven years)
Children: Elle (4 years old)
Career: Professional singer and booking manager, Mannequin the Band
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Where do you call home today? Englewood
Dana Wield, along with her business partner Alan Currens, created Mannequin the Band to provide a high-end live music experience for events. Wield, a singer and booking manager, brings her effusive and bubbly energy from the musical theater districts in New York City. Currens, who also sings, plays many instruments and oversees production, cut his musical chops as a rock ‘n’ roll drummer for 35 years. Together, the symbiosis is evident. Mannequin the Band has the production value and vibe of a well-honed rock band and the vocals, professionalism and precision of a Broadway musical. By all accounts, if your event needs great live music, and you need to strap on your blue suede shoes and dance, check out Wield and Currens and Mannequin the Band.
What surprises people about you?
The number of hats I wear. Singer, booking manager and marketing for Mannequin the Band; co-owner of the Denver Music Institute; wife and young mother.
How do people describe you?
Determined and bubbly. Always ready for a party and to connect with others. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist … continuously observing and wondering how to make things better. A perfectionist in sequins … watch out!
Who do you most admire?
Any female business owner who had a vision and a passion and created something successful in a male-dominated industry. I’m constantly learning from female entrepreneurs who are juggling motherhood as well.
What was the last great book you read?
Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny. It’s an amazing book for women business owners who want to take their business to the next level. In the male-dominated industry that I am in, it has helped empower me as a business owner and singer.
What is your biggest fashion faux pas?
Sequins. I’d like to say I wear them only on stage, but I wear them all the time.
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
My husband and my daughter. That and the ability to let go and dance and have a good time.
What was your last major purchase?
Alan and I bought the Denver Music Institute a few years back. It was Mannequin’s first big purchase and it created an opportunity for us to have an amazing rehearsal space as well as employ our musicians as teachers.
What gadget can you not live without?
The weather and altitude application on the iPhone.
What are your hobbies
We love to travel. Last year we went to Thailand. I also do Pilates twice a week, enjoy reading and watching live music.
What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
After having my daughter, looking out at the mountains, I was so thankful that this view and lifestyle would be my daughter’s “normal.”
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit?
Are you involved with any charities?
My husband was a part of starting Emergent, which in part creates an opportunity for businesses to give 20 percent of their profit to their chosen charities. Mannequin the Band gave 20 percent of their profits last year to Youth on Record (youthonrecord.org). We also give free performance for some charity events.
What took you down this career path?
I spent a huge part of my life training for particular roles and auditioning for musical theater. I loved it, but didn’t see it as a career. I took a break from musical theater, and started thinking of performing lots of roles live on stage. I met Alan, who was a drummer for 35 years, he had the same vision for a live event band, and he brought the rocker’s perspective.
Was there a particular type of music you grew up with?
I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock (Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt) and a lot of musical theater and American standards. With Mannequin, I get to carry on singing that wide variety of music. At any given show, I’ll sing anything from James Brown to Beyoncé.
Who are your influences?
Whitney Houston, Linda Ronstadt, Ellie Goulding.
You spent some time in musical theater in New York. How has that influenced what you do with Mannequin the Band?
In two ways. As a performer I can become the artist whoes song I am singing and adding their choreography. Second, the discipline, professionalism and commitment required in musical theater really helps build the feeling of family because of all the hard work required.
Did you have a favorite role in theater?
I loved playing Charity in Sweet Charity.
Is there a particular moment in music that moved you?
Every night we perform, the person throwing the party who may have been planning this night for a year, often looks at us during the last song of the night and we know that they have just had one of the best nights of their lives.
What was the hardest moment you experienced with the band?
As a performer, the hardest time for me was when I had a newborn on the road with me. I had help … however, my daughter wouldn’t take a bottle, so nursing took some creativity.
What sets Mannequin the Band apart from other wedding and event bands?
We are a set band. We don’t have a roster system where we employ different musicians on different nights. That means that on stage we always have an authentic connection with each other and the audience. We can also create more of a show, more of a concert, rather than just going from one song to the next. You develop trust and chemistry with your bandmates that other bands don’t have.
From a business perspective, what is the most challenging aspect of the job?
The hardest aspect would be balancing the different aspects of my job (performing, booking, marketing, etc.). Thankfully, Alan and I make the perfect team in creating our lanes where we can both thrive and be good partners to each other. We also have an amazing operations manager, Mia Stone, and musical director, Ryan Skiles. They help us to focus on where we really need to be.
What is your favorite Colorado venue?
Anywhere with great production (sound and lights) and anywhere with a crowd that is ready to dance and have a good time.
What is your favorite memory with the band?
A lot of bands use karaoke backing tracks. We made a decision to not use tracks. I love taking a song for a ride live because we aren’t tied down to tracks.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I want to be doing what I’m doing now. Alan and I would love to create a few more bands. I created CODA-- the Collective of Denver Artists—with Julia Tobey of Give 5 Productions, Brett Omara with Oncue Entertainment, and Alan as an option to book and refer live music in Colorado. It’s a community of entertainers created to connect and network with other performers and generate and make referrals. I’d love to grow that project as well for producing and booking Colorado live event music.
What would you fix in the music business if you could?
Alan and I both feel the overall mindset of entertainers and bands should be to view themselves as entrepreneurs and not just musicians.
What would you tell aspiring artists about how to get into the business?
Throw yourself into all of it until you find your lane. Then focus on how to monetize that. With respect to playing event music, I’d tell people to listen to every genre of music, and find your favorite parts of each genre and focus on that.
What is your favorite song to sing or play. Why?
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. I love this song because it is nostalgic and never gets old! It packs the dance floor every time. So does “Africa” by Toto, which Alan leads.
Which was better, Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star Is Born?
Both were great, but I walked away from A Star is Born more moved. I loved Lady Gaga’s character and how she showed she just needed someone to believe in her to succeed.
What duet would you like to perform with me?
“Shallow,” of course. Or “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to celebrate Colorado.
Scott S. Evans is graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a father of two, a business litigation attorney, writer and high school lacrosse coach living in Centennial. Scott’s blues-based album “Let’s Talk About Me” spent less than a week in the top ten.
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