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Danielle Marie to debut with Matt Maher on Saturday at Brandon church

BRANDON — The creative tattoo on her foot tells you a lot about Danielle Marie.

It's a bass clef and a treble clef facing opposite directions to form a heart. At the top is a cross. The idea is to show how serious she is about God and music.

Marie, a clinical pharmacist at Sun City Center's South Bay Hospital, looks to ink her name in the memory of Christians and music lovers alike when she combines the two in her big stage singing debut Saturday night.

Marie will be the opening act for Grammy-nominated Christian singer Matt Maher in the new, 1,000-seat Nativity Catholic Church Youth Center. She expects to perform a nine-song set that figures to last 45 minutes and feature three original tracks.

"I am very excited," said Marie, 27. "When I'm just practicing, I get teary. It's going to be a roller coaster of nerves and adrenaline. I will be super excited and I know I will get a little emotional."

Marie will release her first single, Love's Got You Now, at the end of the concert. The song also will be available for download via her Facebook page at Danielle Marie Music.

Not a bad way to be christened in the music industry, considering that before this concert she has only dabbled with music among her peer groups, singing a bit in college and in weddings.

She began singing as part of Nativity's LifeTeen mass a decade ago while living in Riverview and attending Bloomingdale High School her senior year.

Justin Lantz, the Nativity youth ministry director, recalls a poised vocalist.

"Even when she first started singing as a teen, she had a lot of confidence in the gift that God gave her and she was always willing to use that gift," said Lantz, who sings and plays the guitar. "She is doing this for the love of music and love to worship. She is a wonderful person with a smile on her face and very humble."

As a self-described naive 19-year-old aspiring singer, she took that composure to the second season of the American Idol auditions. She made it to the second round, where executive producer Nigel Lythgoe cut her just shy of an opportunity to audition in front of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

She realizes now that the show was looking for what she dubbed "the entertainment factor that she doesn't really agree with" when choosing which contestants advanced in front of the celebrity panel.

It was, she said, time to shift her focus to a more stable endeavor — college. She went to pharmacy school at Nova Southeastern University.

Since moving back to Riverview permanently in 2009, she has held down her 9-to-5 pharmaceutical job, but it's after work when her budding career begins. She records music at night and on weekends with longtime friend Matthew Edwards, her producer and part of her band.

Her biggest fan is her husband, Race Land Jr., a CVS pharmacist. Marie, who uses her middle name as her stage name, has compiled about 25 original songs that she is just waiting for the right time to share. After the show, she intends to test the market by releasing an EP in February. After gauging the response from fans and those close to her, she plans to release her first album — on her own — this year.

While Marie remains unsigned by any record label, she hopes to open a few eyes and ears by opening up for Maher. Lantz says that she is not accepting any money for her part of the performance. She views this as a stepping stone to launch her career and is glad to help the Nativity youth programs.

Marie has never met Maher or even seen him perform live, "but I've been singing his music for 10 years." Maher has written songs with many noted Christian artists, including Audrey Assad, who headlined the first big concert at the new Nativity Youth Center that drew nearly 800 people last August.

Just because Marie has a strong Christian background, don't be quick to label her a Christian singer. While she calls some of her music "Christian fuse," she also enjoys piano-inspired tunes, which she plays, and country music. She counts Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood and Britt Nicole as her main musical influences and tries to offer music with "good messages."

"It's going to be an awesome show," Marie said. "I'm just going to try to express myself. I hope people enjoy it."