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Meet The Stars of The Second Annual Danny Awards

Meet The Stars of The Second Annual Danny Awards

The second annual Danny Awards will take place this Saturday, March 19th from 4 to 6 PM EST at Symphony Space NYC. The Danny Awards are hosted by Daniel’s Music Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building community through music. The musical award show honors the musical talents of artists with developmental and physical disabilities. Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges made up of musicians and music industry professionals. The live event will also be livestreamed for all to enjoy. 

Curious about this year’s Danny Winners? Check out their performances below on YouTube and register here for the live event or livestream on March 19!

Wani Benedith

Meet Wani, a 14-year-old solo artist based in New York. Wani has been singing since he was 6-years-old and is also a student, public speaker and co-founder of a company called Braille Code Inc. Check out the video below of Wani, performing during graduation:

George Dennehy

Adopted from Romania at 2-years-old and raised in Richmond, VA, George Dennehy is a full-time musician and speaker. Now married with a 7-year old son, George has been passionate about music from a young age. Because he does not have arms, he has learned to do everything with his feet! Listen to his original song about adoption here.

Anelise Diamond Merrihew

Anelise Diamond Merrihew is a State Ambassador and Officer for Best Buddies, Founder and President of her high school’s first and only fully inclusive music club. Sharing her bright light with her community through music, Anelise gained global recognition in 2020 when she and her family band posted a series of musical performances called The Quarantine Sessions. To see her perform with her family, check out the video below. 

Ethembeni Special School

The Ethembeni School aims to create highly educated members of society who are proactive, ready, and able to make a difference in South Africa. They currently help 250 Physically Disabled and Visually Impaired learners from all over South Africa reach their full potential. The school lives up to their name, “Place of Hope.” Check out one of their live performances here: 

Jennifer Msumba

Songwriter, musician, author, and award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Msumba is a woman of many talents with autism. She balances her time between playing keys for her church, membership in American Mensa, and cuddling with her dog Lemonade. Listen to to Jennifer’s original song below. 

Jake Nielsen

Jake Nielson is an international recording artist and family man. He cites his biggest accomplishment as his beautiful wife Ashley and two kids, Jake and Lily. On stage, Jake’s achievements come in the form of touring all over North America with his band, “Jake Nielsen’s Triple Threat.” Living with Cerebral Palsy, Jake loves to inspire kids with disabilities to reach for the stars and try to do whatever their heart tells them. Check out a live performance from his band.  

The Note-Ables

The Note-Ables first met in April 1999 and rapidly became a professional group of musicians who shatter the stereotype that people with disabilities have limited talents and abilities. Effortlessly blending genres like country, blues, jazz, and classic rock, the group has added to the dynamic arts community in The Truckee Meadows. Check out their performance of Santana and Rob Thomas’ “Smooth.” 

Colton Purcell

Colton Purcell is a pianist and Master’s in Music Technology candidate based in Utah. Born with a rare type of dwarfism called metatropic dysplasia, Colton has earned a Bachelor of Music Degree with an emphasis in Commercial Music from Snow College. Check out his arrangement of a piece from Final Fantasy 7


Santon is an award-winning musician, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and raised in Massachusetts. He performs as a solo pianist, accompanies singers, and plays piano in the Boston Tango Orchestra. Fully blind from birth and autistic, he is an alumnus of Perkins School for the Blind and went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music, summa cum laude. Santon produced two albums: Flavors of the Rainbow and Night Animals. Check out his performance of “Samba In Nahant” here: 

Shane Michael Taylor

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Shane Michael Taylor is an artist, songwriter, author, and motivational speaker. Shane uses his life experiences, obstacles, and triumphs while overcoming his challenges with cerebral palsy to inspire others with his original music, speeches, and writings. Listen to his song “I’m Giving In.” 

4 Wheel City 

4 Wheel City is an entertainment organization started by Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez, both talented hip-hop artists in wheelchairs due to gun violence. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for the disabled, and inspire people not to give up on life. Check out one of their music videos, entitled  “The Movement.” 

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