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From gospel choir to solo careers: Two ASU musicians discuss their musical journey

Christian singer Thomas Muglia and indie pop singer Danielle Durack started in ASU's Gospel Choir and are now pursuing music careers


ASU alumna Danielle Durack practices the piano in her home in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

When Danielle Durack and Thomas Muglia auditioned for the ASU Gospel Choir, the launch of their solo careers was still a work in progress.

The two musicians have spent the last year or two working on their solo careers and releasing new music. 

Danielle Durack, who graduated from ASU in May 2018 as an interdisciplinary studies major with a focus in vocal performance and business, joined Gospel Choir her last semester of college, but she said she regretted not joining sooner. 

“It was the most uplifting experience,” Durack said. “It was very different, and I was like kicking myself.”

Thomas Muglia, a junior majoring in music education, joined Gospel Choir in the fall semester of his junior year, and felt impacted by the community there. 

“I love it,” Muglia said. “It might be my favorite thing about ASU."

But while the two have both have participated in the University's gospel choir, the two have found different ways to stand out in the local music scene.

“Everyone has something to bring to the table,” Durack said. “The only thing that sets me apart is my own story.”

Durack, grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., and said she draws inspiration from her fears. But the themes in her songs all correspond with growth, perseverance and love, she said.

“The first track is called 'Start,' and there’s a line in there that’s, ‘the stars in my eyes, they scare my mother. They make her wonder if I will survive,'" Durack said. "That is something I struggled with a lot throughout the course of my life – people being unsupportive of me out of fear.”

Durack’s sophomore album “Bashful”, is personal in a way of sharing her vulnerabilities – including ideas that came to her in dreams – through her indie pop sound.

“I had a reoccurring dream that I lost all my teeth and I looked it up and it said it was a really bad omen,” Durack said when asked about the lyrics to her song, “Something Good,” which was released as a single in 2018. 

Her producer, Samuel Rosson, encouraged Durack’s creativity in the studio as well. 

“It was a really spontaneous creating process just because we didn’t have anything planned out before we entered the studio, but the way she writes her songs and melodies kind of formed that indie pop sensibility within itself,” Rosson said.

In Muglia's musical journey, he said that directing music for the All Saints Catholic Newman Center shaped his approach to music. 

“Religious music wasn’t really on the map for me, but I took this job at the church as a freshman in college and the community there was really powerful," Muglia said. "I came to know God in a much deeper way. Through that I decided to start writing worship music, and I completely fell in love with it.” 

He said that his new album titled “The Return” is representative of that journey in a personal way. 

Muglia produced his debut album himself in his father's home studio, he said.

“The hardest part was the editing process," Muglia said. "After everything is finished you have to go back and fix all the things and re-record some parts. It was my first time ever doing that so it just took me twice as long to learn how to do it and do it for real at the same time.”

Muglia was thankful to have a good support system, including the faculty at ASU.

“Recently I’ve had some incredible teachers who have been really inspiring in finishing the project – particularly Dr. (Jason) Thompson who is in charge of the gospel choir.” Muglia said.

Durack was also appreciative of her instructors at ASU who gave her the tools and support to launch her solo career. 

“I had a professor named Jacob Adler, (and) he taught music theory like it was a philosophy class.” Durack said. “He made something that can be so dry interesting it’s its own language.”

Both musicians said they are excited for the future and eager to share their music with the world.

Muglia will have his album release show Feb. 1 at the All Saints Catholic Newman Center.

“As soon as this step of the project is over – releasing it – I hope to write a lot more and do it over again and start building up a collection of songs,” Muglia said.

And for Durack, she hopes to tour the West Coast and reach new audiences. 

When asked what she would say to new fans, Durack said, “Thanks for listening. I hope the music speaks for itself.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @ziacrespo on Twitter. 

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