December 30, 2020

Written by Barry Kaufman. Photography by Blake Crosby.

If, by some miracle, you are not familiar with Danielle Hicks, the flame-haired siren who has captivated the Southeastern music scene and brought the house down at private parties all over Palmetto Bluff, introductions may be in order. If you are already familiar with her legendarily soulful sweet sound, feel free to skip ahead.

A native of Tifton, Georgia, Hicks began performing Southern rock staples with her father’s band, Mood Doc, at the age of 7. After high school, she made her move to New York City to pursue stardom but quickly found the South calling her home. We could tell you about that yearning for a simpler life, but you should probably just pour a drink and put on the track “Wide Open” from her debut album Honey and experience the raw emotion for yourself.

Returning to the South and ending up in Savannah, Hicks paired with guitarist Ben Keiser and formed Danielle Hicks and the Resistance, a band whose oeuvre gleefully dances between blues, rock, and R&B on the strengths of Keiser’s masterful guitar work and Hicks’s distinctive vocals. They toured the Southeast for years, returning regularly to Savannah and the Lowcountry for festivals, bar shows, and parties, until the time came to record.

For her debut album, Honey, Hicks sought out famed producer Jim Scott of PLYRZ Studios (pronounced like “pliers”). Scott has worked the boards for acts ranging from Tom Petty to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and under his supervision, Honey not only blew up on its Indiegogo campaign, but it masterfully captured Hicks’s range. On “Walkin’,” her sultry wail captures the fire of every spurned woman who has ever stormed out of a honky-tonk. On “Red Bird,” her voice evokes the pure joy of simply sitting beneath a tree with the person you love.

(At this point, we’d like to welcome back everyone who was able to skip ahead.)

Baby Blues
And now, Hicks is occupied with her latest masterpiece, an energetic 9-month-old girl by the name of Revel.

“The song that I wrote for Blake (her husband, celebrated photographer Blake Crosby) at our wedding had a line in it saying, ‘Your love has set me free, now every day is a revelry,’” Hicks said. As we spoke on the phone, Revel provided a near-constant background hum of contented coos and joyful squeals, as if to prove that her mom isn’t the only one with a powerful voice.

Having a child would normally spell “Game Over” for a performing singer-songwriter, but Hicks and her husband have adapted to parenting almost instantly. In fact, just 17 days after Revel was born, Hicks was back on stage opening for Sister Hazel. “She slept through the whole thing, so I guess she didn’t find me that entertaining,” Hicks said with a laugh.

She has hit the ground running since Revel was born, performing at venues around the Lowcountry. In fact, the only thing that was able to slow her down was the same pandemic that slowed pretty much everything down this past spring. “We had a full summer planned, it’s just...everything kind of stopped.”

She was able to take part in one of the many quarantine concerts held in Savannah, and with the lifting of restrictions, she’s even started playing smaller venues. “We’re doing Collins Quarter at Forsythe and Corks in Bluffton next weekend. We are still trying to be really, really careful, having a baby,” she said, adding that she wears a mask and gloves when she’s not performing. “This Sunday will be the first time I’m around people and singing. I’ve always been a hugger. It’s going to be strange to navigate that. I’m still trying to follow social distancing. It’s going to be a little strange.”

Homegrown

These days, a baby and socially distanced performances aren’t the only things keeping Danielle Hicks busy. She and her husband, Blake, recently opened Crosby Gardens, a fully functional organic farm on a property owned by Blake’s grandfather just off S. Okatie Highway between Palmetto Bluff and Savannah.

“The farm has really been great for our sanity through all this,” she said. While many of us have spent time building up our own “crisis gardens,” Crosby Farms was in the cards long before the pandemic. “This was a year and a half in the works. This was not a COVID rush job.”

The couple spent that time cultivating the soil to organically grow everything from hakurei turnips to heirloom tromboncino squash. As we spoke, they were still getting their infrastructure up and running to sell their vegetables and cut flowers, but interest was high. Even if patrons may have a hard time finding it.

“We get so many calls from our friends, ‘We think we’re here. Where’s the farm?’ We may have to get a sign eventually,” Hicks said.

The Crosby family isn’t just a part of the land thanks to the acreage now supporting Crosby Gardens. Blake’s father was a wildlife manager for Palmetto Bluff back when it was still a hunting ground for Union Camp. “They have a few pictures in their house of Palmetto Bluff before it became this gorgeous community,” she said. “I get excited when I get that pass to go in. It’s been a big part of Blake’s family.”

And just as the fields of the Crosby farm have nourished lush edibles, the experience of farming and being a new mom has proven fruitful for Hicks’s songwriting.

“I’m still very driven to get this second record done or get some singles out this year,” she said. Hicks says she has seven or eight songs that are ready for an album, a selection that represents a more unified sound than Honey. “For one, something I’m excited about, they have more similarity, more of a common vibe,” she said. “Honey was blues on this song, R&B on this song.… These have a little more of a congruency.”

While they wait for the sophomore album, fans of Danielle Hicks and the Resistance will simply have to enjoy their live shows from a safe distance and maybe pick up a few fresh veggies. If they can find the farm, that is.

Listen to Danielle’s first album, Honey, on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music, and follow her on social media for updates on the release of her second album.

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