DANiiVORY ‘08: From CeeLo to the Super Bowl with Beyoncé

Born Theresa Danielle Flaminio, multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter DANiiVORY '08, who has toured with Beyoncé, CeeLo Green, and Imagine Dragons, sets out on her own.

May 11, 2015

Around Thanksgiving 2012, after a string of tours performing with the likes of CeeLo Green and Imagine Dragons, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter DANiiVORY intended to shift focus toward producing her own music. But when she received the call to play keys with Beyoncé, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse. Her second gig: the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII halftime show.

“I was still on a high that I was playing with Beyoncé,” says DANiiVORY, who continued as a member of the superstar's all-female backing band the Suga Mamas in the ensuing Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. “The energy of that stadium was incredible that night, because we're in the middle of the field on this little stage, and there are 50,000 people all around us with glowing phones, and 100 dancers below us. It felt like magic in the air."

For DANiiVORY, the magic is ubiquitous. In addition to Beyoncé and another all-female band backing CeeLo Green, she has toured with South Korean female K-pop sensation 2NE1, singer/songwriter Bridgit Mendler, and fellow Berklee alumni band Imagine Dragons, and is currently embarking on an ambitious solo career.


Ivory Queen

Born Theresa Danielle Flaminio, DANiiVORY's introduction to music came early on in her hometown of Wexford, Pennsylvania where her mother was a liturgical musician, a tradition she carries on as worship leader of a church in her adopted city of L.A.  Awarded a talent scholarship from Berklee, she received an additional bachelor of music in performance and contemporary writing and production. 

It was there she met the members of Imagine Dragons, having auditioned the same day as drummer Daniel Platzman. "Actually, I had my EP release party at Ben and Daniel’s basement in Allston," says DANiiVORY. "We’d get together and have jam sessions." After a west coast tour in 2011, an amicable split came shortly before the band signed a record deal. "Sometimes if you’re not in the band from the beginning and you don’t establish the roles, it gets harder later when it gets big," DANiiVORY says, adding, "I don’t want to be a hired gun—I know that’s the way things are touring in these big projects, but I want to be a creative player and have a hand in the writing."

In the nascent stages of a solo career and with that spirit in mind, she took up the stage name DANiiVORY, a portmanteau of her middle name and instrument of choice, and also inspired by one of her musical heroines, "Ivory Queen of Soul" Teena Marie. 

LA Connections

Upon graduation, DANiiVORY moved to LA, landing an internship through Berklee at Tom Hanks' production company Playtone, but ultimately decided she belonged on the stage. "Berklee really gives you the tools you need to succeed out in the real world," she said, adding, "It’s just a matter of making connections."

An early connection came though Berklee friend and drummer Kyle Crane '07 (Daniel Lanois, Kanye West), who invited her to a local church where touring musicians frequently played and shared experiences. There, DANiiVORY met a musician who alerted her of an audition for CeeLo's band, connecting her to his agent. "It was through Berklee people I even got the audition," she says, adding that perhaps the most important element of her Berklee experience is the friends she made and the people she met there. 

Making Berklee friends didn't end with graduation—years later DANiiVORY would meet fellow Beyoncé keyboardist and "partner in crime" Rie Tsuji '02, who has continued to tour with the superstar since 2006 as assistant musical director. And the Berklee/Beyoncé connections run deep: Nikki Glaspie '05 landed a gig as drummer for the Suga Mamas at the same audition as Tsuji. 

Read more about Rie Tsuji '02 here, and drummer Nikki Glaspie '05 here.

Later on in the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, Beyoncé dropped a new album with no warning—a surprise to everybody, including the Suga Mamas. "We only had four days to get together all the new songs, all the staging and dancing, to basically maneuver it and incorporate a whole new show," DANiiVORY says. "We literally didn’t sleep for three days." And that tour proved to be full of surprises: DANiiVORY even met her fiancé, a member of the pyrotechnics team, on the road with Beyoncé.

Going Solo

While still prepared to take advantage of calls from the Beyoncés and CeeLos of the world, DANiiVORY has a renewed focus toward her solo career. "I really love touring and playing with other musicians, but the main goal is to be able to write your own music and put it out there and tour on your own," she says. She's just released her first dance single Slippen, and is currently working with veteran house DJ Jesse Saunders, as well as getting into the producer role with the singer-songwriter SoShy.

Taking advantage of the range of opportunities available in LA, DANiiVORY has also appeared on Oxygen's reality series Sisterhood of Hip Hop through friend and cast member Diamond, for which she assembled a band, serving as its musical director. After taking part in the show's highest rated episode, she's slated for more appearances in the second season airing this summer.

Through these varied experiences, DANiiVORY offers sage advice: "For Berklee students, really sit down and think about what you want to do, and then start working towards it every day, little by little," she says. "Do what you love, believe in yourself, and have faith that you're on the right path."