An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | April 2, 2008

Air Force son plays violin to inspire -- no strings attached

By Airman 1st Class Melissa White 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

He walks into a room filled with an audience when his performance is announced, just as he has many times before.

Daniel Davis motions to the sound crew at the back of the room to start the music as he raises his violin and bow. When he starts to play along, he entices the audience as they tap their fingers and toes while nodding their head to the beat.

After finishing Shackles by Mary Mary and My Girl by The Temptations, he takes a bow for the applauding audience and humbly makes his way back to his seat.

There was no spotlight this time, but that does not mean his performance was any less special. He was playing for his father, Chief Master Sgt. Reginald Davis, who was retiring from Charleston's 437th Medical Group March 28.

"I like to play songs that touch people's hearts, and I hope I touched his ... even though he's probably seen me play like a thousand times before," said Mr. Davis as he thought about how his father would never get tired of his talent.

Besides playing at his father's retirement ceremony, he has had the opening act for Tops in Blue twice and has played at the Air Force ball, halftime for a recent basketball game between the Charlotte Bobcats and Miami Heat, events for Senator Barack Obama along with many other performances.

With a touch of modern songs and music, Mr. Davis brings the violin up to speed with the 21st Century in an effort to encourage the younger generation.

"It's a blessing to hear what people say about my playing, but I hope the youth get to see it more," said the 19-year-old. "I want to inspire them and help them realize they can get up and do something different, too."

He first started to play when he was 12 years old, and much to everyone's surprise, he didn't choose the violin because he was interested in it.

"I was in seventh grade and I had to do an extracurricular activity because my grades were starting to slip," said the North Charleston, S.C., native with a smile. "And I picked the violin because I knew that there probably wouldn't be any guys in that class - there would be girls."

He lost some interest in the violin later that year when he started being home schooled, but then he said he saw his sister, Faith, get a keyboard and he felt slightly jealous and wanted to start playing the violin again. His new violin instructor gave him the second wind he needed to get to where he is today.

"He wasn't the stereotypical violinist anyone would picture - he just blew me away," said Mr. Davis. "He had a different style from anyone else -- that made me want to play the violin."

As he was growing up, he would play songs at church with his sister, who is now 15 years old.

He started with playing sheet music, but now he can play songs by ear. This started when he met one of his father's friends when he was about 15 years old.

"He would play tracks for songs and I would try to follow along with my violin," said Mr. Davis. "I was thinking, 'yeah, I can do this.' I heard it, and then I played it."

When he realized that he could play by ear, he started going to different churches to see how the musicians performed.

"You know how some people just kind of get captured by the Holy Ghost and started playing along without looking at anything?" said Mr. Davis. "Well, I wanted to play like that, so I just watch the musicians at different churches to pick up on their style."

Nowadays, the genres of music he can play have become more elaborate. He can play most anything from classical to country, including hip-hop, R&B and pop.

Mr. Davis says he plays a lot of classical songs in his college classes. He graduated from the Charleston County School of the Arts in 2007 and is currently attending Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C., to take his core courses in hopes to transfer to the University of South Carolina or Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., to major in music.

Though he has become a rising talent, his career plans do not involve being a star violinist.

"I like the whole violin thing, but I want to do something more low-key ... I want to be in the background a little more," said Mr. Davis.

He is aspiring to be a studio engineer with a successful life. And what he said he considers successful is having a family and being able to support a wife and children some day.

Though he is filled with dreams and talent, he said he isn't the person he is today without his mother, Lillie, and his father and sister.

"I'm overjoyed that he has become so successful, but, being his father, it makes me even prouder when people compliment his mannerisms and how humble he is," said Chief Davis. "Though I've seen him play many times before, he always manages to touch a special place in my heart."