Daneka Nation Revives 'Sacred Ground' with an Upbeat Sound

Rhett Daneka

Daneka Nation revisits “Sacred Ground,” bringing an upbeat, 80s hair metal sound to an old country tune loved by many. Daneka’s interpretation brings the touching story to new generations, keeping it alive for many more to come.

The original country song was co-written and recorded by American country music singer Kix Brooks before he joined the duo Brooks & Dunn with Ronnie Dunn. The song was released as a single in 1989 and part of his self-titled debut album that same year.

A few years later, American country music band McBride & the Ride re-released the song, making it all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now known as Hot Country Songs) charts, just shy of #1, “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus.

Texas born and bred, Rhett Daneka wasn’t always a musician. In fact, his career began quite differently than most. Graduating from high school in 1986, Daneka briefly attended Texas Tech before taking off as a flight instructor. His aviation career even included rescuing premature babies from small Texan towns and delivering them at a better hospital in Corpus Christi. In the early 2000s, Daneka turned from flight to self-employment. And then music came calling.

Daneka Nation’s introduction to music came later in life. In 2004, he began singing at karaoke bars in Houston alongside his then-girlfriend. After they parted ways, he continued going on his own and eventually crossed paths with his soon-to-be mentor. Nearly blind, the 84-year-old quartet singer he met at a Mexican food restaurant would become his partner in music and patient teacher for the next few years. “He couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t sing. It turned out to be a match made in heaven,” shares Daneka. “He taught me to sing on the way to bars, telling me which songs I could sing and which ones I shouldn’t. In the audience, he’d have a scowl on his face if I missed a note. We did that for 5-6 years, sometimes 6 nights a week and 2-3 bars a night. We made quite a name for ourselves.”

After the passing of his beloved teacher, Daneka Nation took some time away from performing. In 2021, he released his first song. Now, every morning, he reminds himself of his goals and takes steps toward those goals daily. “Every morning, brushing my teeth, I look at my reminders and think of what I can do to get further on the road to making my dreams come true.”

“Sacred Ground” explores the narrator’s conversation, highlighting his wife’s affair. Daneka felt an inexplicable connection to the song. “I was driving down a road in Houston, listening to a country oldies station, when they played it out of the blue,” shares Daneka. “I knew then I wanted to cover it. We were working on a song at the time and decided to do ‘Sacred Ground’ instead. The lyrics tell a special story, and it’s fun to sing.”

Partnering with his friend, “the one-man band” from Argentina, who plays every instrument featured on the song, Daneka created his own version. “We sped the song up and added a third chorus. We felt like it needed a third chorus. That was the icing on the cake. We needed one more to drive it home,” tells Daneka Nation. “I said, ‘play the drums like Tommy Lee and guitars like George Lynch of Dokken.’ I don’t think he could’ve done any better with the music. I’m real proud of my guy.”

The two have a seamless process. “I tell him what I want, and we put it together,” explains Daneka. “Then he’ll send it to my sound engineer in Houston, and we’ll bring in backup singers for vocals. Then we get it out.” As Daneka Nation prepares to take the stage with his music, he’s planning out the band that will join him.

Since its release on November 27, Daneka Nation’s “Sacred Ground” has amassed listens across the world. “My friends and family all say this is by far my best song,” adds the artist.  Up next, Daneka Nation is working on a new single, a cover of Lauren Alaina’s “The Road Less Traveled,” minus the banjos. “That’s the first thing I told my guy,” jokes Daneka. “Rip the banjos out. Add electric guitars and sound like an 80s hair metal power ballad.”

Make sure to stay connected to Daneka Nation on all platforms for new music, videos, and social posts.

Published in SXSW Pop by Nadia Sobehart, March 7, 2024

/Contact Daneka Nation

Daneka Nation
Houston, Texas

Email: rhett@danekanation.com
Daneka Nation