ARMONK, N.Y. – Coman Hill Elementary School Moira Danis lives her life like a musical superhero.
By day, she teaches music to the children of Coman Hill. But by night, she can be seen singing cabarets to live audiences.
It was Danis's musical alter ego that was recognized this week for her latest album, “Some People’s Lives,” during the 28th Annual Bistro Awards gala Monday night at the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan.
The celebration recognizes outstanding achievement in the New York cabaret, jazz and comedy communities and is sponsored by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
“The Bistro Award was a lovely surprise,” said Danis. “It’s an honor to receive.”
Soon, Danis will have more time to focus on her music career, as she is set to retire from teaching at the end of this year. She has been teaching music in the Byram Hills school district for 23 years.
“This is my day job and I love what I do here,” said Danis, who is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and holds a Master of Theatre Arts from the City College of New York.
However, about 10 years ago, she found herself missing her night job. That’s when she began performing in smaller venues with a pianist, choosing lyrics that she wanted to share with others.
“There’s a reaction between you and the audience,” she explained. “Being a performer lets me use someone else’s words to convey feelings that touch me so deeply.”
In 2005, Danis began recording because her pianist was moving and she wanted a record of their work together. The result was her debut CD, “I Wish;” she later recorded “Beautiful Sounds – The Songs of Petula Clark.”
Both albums drew from her live shows at different venues, including Danny’s Skylight Room, The Duplex, the Paul Revere Room at the former Hotel Lexington, and the Mabel Mercer Foundation's Cabaret on Mondays at the National Arts Club, all in New York.
However "Some People's Lives" caught the attention of the Bistro Awards.
Roy Sander, reviewer for BistroAwards.com, said Danis’ material was filled with delights and discoveries:
“Her interpretations explore a broad spectrum of attitudes and emotions with intelligence, sensitivity, and lovely singing, and the show makes marvelously effective use of the three accompanists,” he wrote about Danis, whose recordings are available through CDBaby.com.
Danis has had her share of accolades as a teacher as well, being honored by Byram Hills as Teacher of the Year in 1995 for her commitment to and revitalization of the elementary music program. She also has been inducted into the New York State Academy for Teaching.
Coman Hill principal Peggy McInerney said Danis’ experience as a professional singer benefits the school’s children:
“The kids feel her passion for music because she lives and breathes it every day – both here and outside the school,” she said.