Nenna Yvonne & Daniel Wisniewski (SESAC)

Abe Olman Scholarship, 2011

NENNA YVONNE - At age 21, the Nigerian-born/New York-raised pop princess already has the talent, pedigree, looks and desire to reign over the charts indefinitely. Her latest single, “Go Around”—a sultry electropop rave-up—boasts hundreds of thousands of spins on the internet. Three minutes of succulent ear candy, it’s not only the product of a diverse musical upbringing, but a harbinger of more cutting-edge crowd pleasers to come.

Yvonne has known her calling since childhood, but pop stardom was far from predestined. The eldest daughter of four to loving but businesslike Nigerian immigrants, she was expected to set an example and pursue law or medicine. Instead, at age 14, she matter-of-factly informed her family that she would be making the four-hour daily commute from Long Island to the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan, which counts Nicki Minaj and Kelis among their hit - making alumni.

“I think it’s hereditary,” Yvonne laughs about her ambition. “I was pushing for this since I was a little girl. I’m stubborn in a sense, and I’m not the kind of person that’s going to look back and regret that I didn’t try something.” The risk paid off all right. While enrolled at LaGuardia, Yvonne earned the distinct honor of performing with classmates in a Carnegie Hall recital. “There’s people that work their whole life to get that opportunity—violinists, cellists, opera singers,” she marvels. “At age 16, to sing there with a bunch of your friends… it’s almost mind-blowing.”

Although the precocious Yvonne studied classical, chamber music, sight-singing, gospel and jazz, she was quick to embrace modern songwriting sensibilities. At 17 she began experimenting with diary entries that would shape her as a lyricist, then cleverly finagled her finances into purchasing her own studio equipment. One such spending spree at New York’s Sam Ash Music Store got her in touch with up-and-coming producer/eventual mentor Daniel “DTox” Wisniewski. “When I started out writing songs and figuring out my own voice, I didn’t think this was the direction I’d take,” Yvonne admits. “I started working with DTox—he’s like my best friend—and he listened to me a lot. He sort of put me through vocal boot camp, where he tried to combine a lot of the things I learned from high school with stuff that’s current and popular.”

If cult indie EP Model Citizen and the increasingly ubiquitous “Go Around” are any indication, mission accomplished. “I feel like there should be emotion and soul in music. It’s kind of like being on a rollercoaster—you get people excited on the first couple of lines, then you get them really excited because now this voice is in your face. Some people take that approach to life.”

DANIEL WISNIEWSKI (IAMDTOX) - The son of an independent singer / songwriter Daniel’s father would bring him into local recording studios when he was only 7months old. At 6 his mother discovered him playing a broken guitar while singing to a Tom Petty song and somehow he made everything in tune. It was then she knew he had extraordinary talent and signed him up for guitar lessons. Both parents were into the arts, father: music, mother: visual. At age 9 Daniel started his own DJ Business with a couple of his friends who had common interests in the entertainment industry. These young guys stayed together through middle school and worked many of the dances and sound for events at his school.

During this time Daniel started to pull into the sport of bike racing, which was a passion of his mother’s. He entered his first race at age 9 (racing age 10) and soon began to rise in the ranks. He claimed several titles in the USA Cycling sanctioned Wisconsin Cup Series: State Champion in three different classes, Road Race, Criterium and Cyclo-Cross, and was presented his awards by 3 time Tour de France winner Greg Lemond and former Team mate of Lance Armstrong Robbie Ventura. He later found out that he had scoliosis that caused him severe sciatica, and with this knowledge, Daniel decided pull out of racing and focus on what he always wanted to pursue, music.

Daniel always toyed around with different instruments, guitar, piano, even his sister’s Cello. With racing no longer taking up most of his weekends, he could use that time to work on music. His real dream was to play the drums, but not having enough money or space for a kit the next best thing was to DJ. Knowing this was his dream and that Daniel needed more space his mother gave him the master bedroom to at least have the room he needed for his DJ equipment. After asking his sister if he could trade in her Cello in return for a set of turntables he started to try and teach himself. Daniel’s older brother was into DJ’ing during the 80’s so naturally he turned to him for advice. Wanting to learn the real art of “turntablism”, Daniel didn’t know where to turn and after many failed attempts to get in contact with local DJ’s he had the good fortune to meet a very talented local DJ hobbyist named Matt at a music store who mentored him on the technical side of music.

Daniel’s passion for music production lead him to research schools he could attend after high school that would give him the music knowledge he aspired to attain. He chose Full Sail University (FSU) and contacted them while he was still in middle school and developed a good relationship with them. Upon graduation from high school he entered FSU and graduated with a sound engineering degree. Knowing he had to go where the music opportunities were available he promptly moved to New York City. It was there he befriended and worked with Kanye West’s cousin Devo Springsteen and g-unit producer Bang Out. With great passion Daniel continued his pursuit of an artist. He found her, Nenna Yvonne, quite by chance at a music store during a casual conversation. They teamed up and worked relentlessly to master their music. Both Daniel and Nenna have the astounding talent and rare passion it takes to make it big. They realized that a better market for them to reside in would be LA, so less than a year ago they moved to where the opportunities seemed endless. With great success they have now entered a new chapter in pursuit of their dream.