Danielle Rosner was met with boos as she walked on stage. The year: 2009. The place: Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The up-and-coming singer had stepped in front of the venue’s infamous “tough crowd.” Undeterred, she sang Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.”
“I specifically focused on the people that were just heckling me and turned it around, and I ended up winning that round, which was pretty crazy,” Rosner said by telephone from Los Angeles. “The excitement that I was feeling on stage, that really solidified it for me. There’s no question about it. This is my thing. I’m supposed to be doing this.”
That moment propelled Rosner into a career in music. The singer/songwriter went on to form the country music group Honey County in 2014. The band has played gigs alongside headliners like Lady A and Old Dominion. Their music has played on Radio Disney Country and the trio has performed at Stagecoach Festival and CMA Fest. Rolling Stone featured them in “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: February 2017.”
Rosner, who performs under the name Dani Rose, grew up in Chantilly and belonged to Congregation Beth Emeth in Herndon. She’ll return virtually to her old synagogue on Aug. 30, when Honey Country performs for Beth Emeth to kick off its Annual Appeal fundraiser.
The concert is free, but Beth Emeth will be accepting donations. The campaign’s overall goal is to raise $155,000, said Ellyn Hirsch, the synagogue’s vice president for development, who reached out to Rosner about doing the concert.
“Her success is a real joy for all of us. It’s like watching your own kid having such success,” Hirsch said. “She’s just such a giving, loving person that I was hoping she just had a soft spot [for the congregation].”
Rosner recalls growing up with Hirsch’s kids and jumped at the chance to give back to her old synagogue.
“I love their family,” Rosner said. “So when Ellyn reached out and asked me, I was like, ‘Mrs. Hirsch, whatever you want. You’d fed me so many times. I’ve slept over at your house so many times. Like, duh, of course.’”
Rosner’s venture into country music wasn’t intentional. Her passion for music and playing piano was something she inherited from her father. This carried over into her years as a student at Virginia Tech, working toward a bachelor’s degree in English and musical analysis. During her senior year, she studied in Italy, where she interned at a TV station and toured with a jazz band.
After returning home and graduating, Rosner used her TV experience to land a job as an executive assistant to the president/CEO of MHz Networks in Falls Church. There she worked on various shows and co-presented the music video program “Strictly Global.” It was during this time that she performed at the Apollo.
Rosner started performing at the 9:30 Club, the Birchmere and Jammin Java. She released her debut album, “Piano Actress” in 2009.
It was around that time that Rosner felt the need for a change of scenery.
“I found myself outgrowing everything that I possibly could do musically in Virginia. I thought about New York, but every time I went to New York, I just felt like it was a really cold place. I was just like, OK, this is not for me. I thrive on sunshine.”
Nashville was too close to home, so Rosner moved to Los Angeles. Eventually, she got a call from a representative of LeAnn Rimes. The Grammy winner was looking for a female country singer to open for her. Until then, Rosner never saw herself as a country artist. But that’s the label she eventually fell into.
“And that’s how I was defined as country music,” Rosner said. “All of a sudden, my music started selling, and it was in the country genre. And I was like, OK, this makes sense.”
To attend Honey County’s virtual concert on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m., go to bethemeth.org.