Biography


“To God Be The Glory For The Great Things He Hath Done” says Danette E. Sheppard, the first featured female vocalist in the 134-year history of Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. “That is my signature phrase because God is sooo good and has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams!”

Danette was born on January 16th at Sydenham Hospital. She enjoys cooking, listening to music, dancing, swimming and surfing the net. Her favorite color is red and she loves anything glittery and sparkling. In addition to being artistic, Danette put a great deal of effort into her studies as evidenced by her place in Who’s Who Among American High School Students and later induction into Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society while she was in college.

A native New Yorker, and current member of Actor’s Equity Association, Danette began singing at the Memorial Baptist Church in Harlem at the age of 14. She made her first recording in 1995 with gospel group John Wilson, Jr. and Just Friends where she was a featured soloist on such selections as “Sign Me Up” “Glory To His Name” and “Thank You Lord.” Since making her professional debut in 2000 at the age of 32, she has amassed an impressive list of musical theatre credits, including a three-month European tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, a tour of the musical revue Smokey Joe’s CafĂ© with Gladys Knight, a leading role in the Off-Broadway production of Red Hot Broadway starring BJ Crosby and regional theatre productions of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Last Session, Chicago, Nunsense, and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (for which she was awarded the Connecticut Critics Circle Award).

Danette enjoys all kinds of music and lists Leontyne Pryce, Rochelle Farelle and B. J. Crosby as favorite singers, and names Patti LaBelle as a role model: “As fabulous as she is, she’s still so gracious, and maintains a certain humility and connection with her audiences.” Danette is a fan of several actors as well, including Angela Bassett, Halle Berry and Al Pacino. She herself looks forward to performing in film and television roles when she is not involved in a vocal project. When asked who she most admires in show business, Danette places Oprah Winfrey’s name at the top of the list as a constant source of inspiration.

As a child, Danette excelled in school, skipped two grades and graduated high school at age 16. Since she has never had any formal musical or theatrical training, she gives all credit for her talent to God. “I try to bring a certain spirituality to whatever I’m doing, whether it’s gospel, comedy or musical theatre. I want God to get the Glory for all that I can do and all that I am!” Her favorite gospel song is “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and she considers singing both an extension and manifestation of her
spirituality. “It’s very much a part of who I am.” After several years in office management, Danette made the decision to try show business full-time (“so I wouldn’t regret it later” and sing the famous shoulda-coulda-woulda song).

Danette has an eleven-year-old daughter, Bree (her pride and joy) who sings and performs as well. Danette’s mother, Rev. Ellen R. Hoist, is an ordained minister and the Director of the Licensed Practical Nursing Program at Bronx Community College. Her father, Rev. Ralph H. Hoist III, is also an ordained minister who works for the New York City Transit Authority. She has a sister, Easter, who is responsible for the design of this website. She is a scholar, an aspiring global policy-maker and Danette’s self-proclaimed biggest fan! Danette also has two brothers, William – a professional cook and Ralph IV – owner of a real estate agency. “I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful family. They are so supportive and loving and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for all they have done for me.” Mamie E. Sheppard, Danette’s maternal grandmother and matriarch of the family, has also been extremely supportive of her gifts and talents. “I honor her from the bottom of my heart and I thank her for her encouragement and for raising such positive and successful daughters; my mom and my two aunts, Beverly and Janice, who are a doctor and lawyer, respectively.” It shows that even with limited financial means (Grant Projects in Harlem), anyone and everyone can be a success in their lives and make their dreams come true with hard work and determination.

“The sky is the limit! If I can do it, you can do it, too.

Everyone is special and has gifts and talents.”