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Daniel Christian Music

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Daniel Christian's "Thought Rock" Inspires Students from the Stage

Singer-songwriter Daniel Christian leaves a position as a high school English educator to pursue his music career, a living example of how to follow a dream.

Lincoln, NE, August 10, 2008 --( Like many recording artists, Daniel Christian is uncomfortable answering the question: How do you describe your music?

"Someone once told me my songs ‘sound like cinnamon rolls taste,’" he decides after some deliberation, "so I like to go with that."

"Thought Rock" is the brand fans use to characterize the work of this power-pop folk rocker. His audience is diverse: twenty-something college grads, sixty-something college professors, and even his own high school students. That’s right—his students.

At first glance, Christian shares many similarities with the scores of his contemporaries found on iTunes and stages across the country, but unlike many of them, Christian’s approach to music springs not from depression, hardships, or drugs, but from a career in education. He holds a B. S. ed. degree from Northwest Missouri State University, and before he played at Disneyland and Nashville’s Bluebird Café, he taught high school English in Pawnee City, Nebraska. As a unique approach to studying language and literature, Christian would frequently invite songwriters to share their material and methods with his English classes, but after years of encouraging students to make their dreams into solid realities, Christian set out this year to take his own advice.

He left his position as English faculty and released a full-length LP, i am merely sand (recorded in Nashville by two-time Grammy-winner Charlie Chadwick). The album, clearly influenced by years of studying English grammar and literature, features the Beatle-esque tune "Estella," about the classic Dickens character, as well as the anthemic sing-along "New Sun Rising" (written for a class of graduating high school seniors). Perhaps an old habit from writing so many research papers, Christian has been known to write songs with a thesaurus on hand, which means the listener may want to have a dictionary nearby. Another song on the CD, "…unto herself," includes in its verses words like "recompense," "reciprocate," and "archetype."

Self-aware of his verbosity, Christian stops short of apologizing for it. "For some reason," he postulates, "it’s much easier for me to be complicated when I write than it is to state the obvious."

That’s not to say that he always scrapes the bottom of the lexical barrel. His "California Song" from an upcoming record contains this romantic observation: "Even a lowly pawn, it seems / With classic moves can take the queen." Still, it’s clear that his studies of language and its origins will surface regularly.

Christian is unusual, as rock stars go. He doesn’t drink or smoke, and his primary Internet presence is his MySpace profile. As a teacher, Christian was unconventional, too. The cheesy, motivational classroom décor was absent in favor of posters of his favorite bands and films, and a sign that read: Education: The Next Best Thing to a Record Deal, but this new "actions speak louder than words" philosophy is perhaps his most unorthodox teaching method to date. Thoreau encouraged building "castles in the air." Educating by example, Daniel Christian is showing his students how to "put the foundations under them."

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Daniel Christian Music
Daniel Kettelhake

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