Just one faculty member on the University of Colorado Denver campus is a Colorado Music Hall of Famer.
Chris Daniels, an assistant professor in the CU Denver College of Arts & Media and the area head for the music business program, is honored to be included in the fourth class of inductees. He and Judy Collins recently were inducted and joined the group that already includes John Denver and legendary music promoter Barry Fey.
Daniels’ fame includes his continuing performing career with Chris Daniels and the Kings.
He began teaching music business at CU Denver in 2007 and is the first educator included in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. G. Brown, the hall of fame’s director, said Daniels dual role of musician and teacher made him the perfect inductee. “Chris is an outstanding musician but a huge part of his legacy is his work as an educator,” Brown explained. “That’s why we’re inducting him now.”
Photo: Chris Daniels (left) performing with Magic Music
Daniels recently answered a series of questions about his induction, his CU Denver students and lengthy career in the music industry.
CU Denver Today: Your students must feel lucky to have a professor who’s a successful musician.
Chris Daniels: Well, I’m not sure they feel lucky during exams! But, I do have a unique perspective on the music business, and I’m pretty sure no one teaches it quite the way I do. Not only have I been booked for concerts by hundreds of promoters over the years, I promoted concerts myself when I was at Swallow Hill. I know what it’s like to turn down an artist because s/he isn’t selling enough tickets, and I’ve felt that disappointment as a performer on the other side of the desk. I’m able to interpret that conversation for the students. Things as basic as filling out a W9 form. The bonehead mistakes to avoid. Believe me, it’s all of benefit.
CU Denver Today: We understand that you write your own textbooks.
Chris Daniels: They’re online and only available to my students. The music industry is always changing, so this is the only way to stay current. Once textbooks are printed, they’re immediately out of date. I’m able to update mine constantly. The titles are “Do it Yourself: You’re not in it Alone” and “Concert Business, Tours & Venues.”
CU Denver Today: Staying fresh and current as a performer in the music industry must be a challenge.
Chris Daniels: That’s where I rely on my students. They inform me about new music trends every single day. They’re my source. I always ask them, “where are you hearing this.” We have daily discussions.
CU Denver Today: You’re in some pretty elite company in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, just four classes of inductees so far — the induction evening and concert at the Paramount Theater must have been something.
Chris Daniels: Truly, you don’t get a lot of moments in the sun in your life, where you’re totally there. The closest thing to that night was the times I’ve played Red Rocks. I was in a tough battle with leukemia a few years back and am here today because of a bone marrow transplant from my sister Jane Moffit. She and the rest of my family were there. And, the doctor who got us through it. When my name was announced, I received loud whoops and hollers from the crowd. My fans claim they were the loudest there (laughs) and I think they were right! I grew up listening to Judy Collins. She and others of her generation made it possible for musicians like me to be singer-songwriters — to go out and perform our own music. As a “working musician,” to be inducted with her is a big honor.
CU Denver Today: Working musician?
Chris Daniels: That’s the term I use because I’ve been lucky enough to work as a musician and tour all over the world for more than forty years. I’ve never been that star kind of performer. There hasn’t been one identifiable hit song that’s defined my career, and I haven’t been all over the charts, but I’ve been able to make a good living with my music. Our Chris Daniels and the Kings chart-topper was “When You’re Cool (the Sun Shines all the Time).” That one was released in 1987 and KBCO radio helped get the momentum started. So, I’m a working musician and they just kinda let me in to this hall of fame. I’m humbled.
CU Denver Today: Are people treating you differently now that you’re a hall of famer?
Chris Daniels: (Laughs) Not exactly. This doesn’t come with a gift certificate or anything like that. It was weird posing for pictures in front of the new “Chris Daniels” display that will be set up in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Museum. I see this as an awfully nice acknowledgment of a body of work that’s hopefully still in progress. I mean look at Judy Collins, she’s 74-years-old and still sings like she did when she was 18.
CU Denver Today: So, what’s next in your hall-of-fame career?
Chris Daniels: Well, as far as performing, I’m dragging my old acoustic jam band Magic Music back into the studio looking to release an album next year, and 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Chris Daniels and the Kings. We’re playing the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park on New Year’s Eve. We did that once before and it’s truly magical. This time we’ll be celebrating the rebirth of the town after the recent floods.
CU Denver Today: And, here at CU Denver?
Chris Daniels: I know I’ll continue to be inspired by my smart and innovative colleagues, like Todd Reid the incredible jazz drummer and bass player Greg Garrison. Singer Judy Coe and I are talking about doing a project together. And, I’m always thrilled to see my students’ success. One recent graduate is living the dream in Nashville, another’s at Ticketmaster, and one’s just started a new music publishing house in Colorado. I don’t claim any portion of their success, I just hope I was able to prepare them for the challenges they’ll face. They’ll be required to wear a lot of hats to be successful in the music business these days. If they understand that, I’ve done my job.