In person, DaNica Shirey doesn’t come across as a superstar. She’s soft-spoken and friendly. Just a bit of a technophobe—she didn’t get an iPhone until she became a contestant on a popular reality show. And truth be told, she’s kind of short, too.
But this Red Lion Senior High School alumna may very well be one of the best singers in America after becoming one of the top 8 contestants on season 7 of The Voice, a televised singing competition on NBC, and getting her current position as a singer for Philadelphia’s prestigious Big House Band.
So how exactly did DaNica Shirey go from Red Lion student to nationally acclaimed singer?
She credits her father as inspiration. Though he wasn’t a professional singer, he had a love for music that was passed down to his daughter. Shirey remembers sitting on his lap as a young child. “We’d make up words back and forth to each other,” she said.
Shirey started young. She began singing for other people around age 8, and was singing at paid gigs by the time she was 14.
In the high school, Shirey had surprising choices for what she considered to be the most helpful classes for her career: public speaking and drama. Both were taught by the late English teacher Sara Yorty, who Shirey considers to be a particular inspiration. “It definitely helped me be more prepared for interviews, being able to talk to people and stuff like that,” Shirey said of the classes.
I asked Shirey if she had any advice for someone who wanted to aspire to be like her, and she said:
“Be positive. Don’t dwell on negative things in life. I’m probably the happiest person I know. Always try to reach for better goals, and know that if today isn’t a good day—just know for a fact that tomorrow will be better. If you are very passionate about something, you know, don’t give up on it. Do it because you love it—don’t do it because somebody tells you to; do it because it’s in your heart. And when you end up succeeding later, it’s going to make you feel amazing because you kept going towards that goal.”