Summerville singer-songwriter Daniel's latest album, Country Made of Kings, reveals a '70s-inflected country-folk songcraft. | Photo by Ruta Smith

Summerville singer-songwriter Ron Daniel remembers very clearly the first time he got up on stage to sing in front of people. It didn’t end well.

“I had all the confidence in the world when I was in my teens and 20s,” he said. “I always felt like I had a knack for performing and singing. But when I actually got my first gig at 20 opening for a band in Atlanta, I experienced stage fright. And it was really life-altering. I told myself, ‘I’m not going to get back up on stage again until I’m ready and pretty much unflappable.’ ”

Then, as Daniel tells it, he blinked and 25 years had gone by. With a teen daughter eager to try open mics, Daniel rekindled his old passion around 2012. He got more serious about his guitar work, embracing open mics and solo gigs at places like Homegrown Brewhouse and Wine & Tapas in Summerville. 

Eventually, the songs came, reflecting a love of  ’70s folkies like James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot and imbued with Daniel’s own charisma and effervescent spirit. Starting with 2018’s In the Live Room, the songwriter has been putting these songs to tape and testing the publishing waters, finding a second life as a musician in middle age.

For the most part, Daniel seems intent on balancing his increasing professionalism — his latest spring 2022 record, Country Made for Kings, featured a full band and production work from North Carolina’s Doug Williams, who famously helmed the board of The Avett Brothers’ early work. Daniel also ventured into the Music Row scene in Nashville to see if his songs might have a chance at being cut by more established artists.

“There’s still a slim chance that anything will come of it,” he said. “I was happy just to talk to people there and be offered some contracts. But they weren’t what I was really looking for. I’m just trying to grow my network and continue to meet people and see if there’s a way up the ladder as far as relationships go. It’s my passion, so I might as well give it a chance.”

In the meantime, the songs themselves are the reward. Daniel feels a real confidence in what he’s creating, particularly given the ample life experience he can now bring to his craft. He will give an intimate performance at 5 p.m. March 22 at Zeppelin Pizza Co. on Johns Island. 

“I think starting to write now at this point in my life has been a benefit. I’ve got a lot more wisdom, and I’ve heard a lot more music,” he said. “And I know what I don’t want to say, and I know how I don’t want to say it.”

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