Singer-songwriter Danielle Miraglia, making it in her own time

Danielle Miraglia, a blues musician from Boston. Photo credit: Brianna Atkins -- 05Rise

Brianna Atkins

Danielle Miraglia, a blues musician from Boston. Photo credit: Brianna Atkins -- 05Rise

Sometimes a rise can happen a bit later in life. Like Lucinda Williams, Danielle Miraglia was a quiet talent in her 20s, wowing crowds and slowly honing her craft as a poetic songwriter and deft-fingered guitarist while her voice grew smokier and sultrier. Then in her mid-30s, she seemed to burst all at once to the forefront of the Boston blues/folk scene. After graduating from Emerson College with a creative writing degree in 1998, Miraglia hit the Boston open-mike circuit. As her following expanded, accolades began to roll in, including an honorable mention at Telluride’s songwriting competition, and most recently a 2015 Boston Music Award nomination for singer-songwriter of the year.

Age: 39


Hometown: Grew up in Revere, now lives in Somerville

What Caught Our Eye: Straddling the line where folk/roots meets rock/blues, Miraglia has a voice that can go from a raspy come-hither purr to an Etta James-esque powerhouse belt, although she may be best known for her lead thumb — a heavy, thumping strike on her Gibson that’s backdrop percussion in itself.

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Think of: Lucinda Williams with a sense of humor. Bonnie Raitt meets Janis Joplin.

Lightbulb moments: The first: “When I was 10, I started a band with my friends. I was writing these cheesy love songs in the vein of these ’80s pop sensations.

The second: “When I was 13, I was getting really into Guns N’ Roses, and I wanted to learn to play guitar. Then I discovered the Stones, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Zeppelin riffs — no one ever learns a whole Zeppelin song, you just learn every single riff.”


The third: “When I first graduated from Emerson, I was at my lowest; I had no idea what to do. I was completely lost in my own skin,” she said. “I’d go out to see live bands, and I’d almost not enjoy it because I was like, ‘I should be doing this.’ When I finally did that first open mike, I found my tribe. I dropped everything and pursued that.”

Biggest Thrill: “I’ve had little bursts of thrills: opening for Johnny Winter at the Narrows Center, playing with John Oates, of Hall & Oates. But I’m still waiting for that big, big thrill.”

Biggest surprise: “It’s more like a collective knowledge as you get older. It’s not like, ‘Surprise! You’re going to do this overnight!’ It’s a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to the point where you’re a working musician,” she said. “I got laid off from my day job in 2002, and I was like, ‘I’m not going back.’ . . . And playing four hours at a time for people who sometimes don’t give a [expletive], it makes you tough. But . . . I’ve made it enough so that I can make a living doing it. You have a short period of time to be a rock star, but you have your whole life to be an artist.”

Inspired by: Janis Joplin, Prince.

Aspires to: Tour the West Coast, release a new album.

For good luck: “Nothing. I just panic a little then I’m fine,” she said with a laugh.

What people should know: “I think, in general, people should support live music. It’s different from looking at something on your computer screen. Come out and connect with me.”

Coming soon: June 10, 8 p.m., Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, with Dayna Kurtz. June 15 and 29, 10 p.m., Toad, Cambridge.


Lauren Daley can be reached at
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