Singing, songwriting and performing have been woven into the fabric of Daniel Jens' life for over two decades. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Daniel performed in several successful unsigned rock bands until he found his true calling in singing and writing Christian music. It is this shift of focus, Daniel said, that has caused his music to hold a more selfless meaning. He now sees his musical passion as a chance to glorify God, rather than a means to build himself up as a performer. This lesson was tough, and the road was filled with stumbling blocks, but a new spirit and vision led by the Lord has proven to be life-changing and more rewarding than Daniel ever could have imagined.
Daniel’s inspirational journey began early 2008 returning home safely to his wife and family after a 15-month tour in Iraq. Daniel continues to reflect on the adversity he faced, yet he is also thankful for the opportunities he was given to glorify God in the midst of war. With Jesus as his strength, Daniel committed his talents to do the Lord’s work as much as his military duty allowed him. He accomplished this by playing and singing at church services, memorial services, prayer breakfasts and the US Embassy. The highlights of his performances came when he played for fellow soldiers to help boost morale. Daniel not only received a Certificate of Appreciation for “bringing a touch of class to the battalion," during his tour in Iraq, but he also won the 10-week “Blackjack Idol” competition, held by Blackjack, the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade.
Daniel’s most notable accomplishment of 2008 was his appearance on NBC’s America’s Got Talent Season 3. Months of exposure on this live talent show helped Daniel gain an enormous increase in his fan base. His journey on the show started back in April of 2008, when he auditioned in front of the judges in Dallas, Texas. After receiving a standing ovation from the audience and overwhelming support from the judges, Daniel advanced to the next round hosted in Las Vegas. Vegas also proved to be a success when Daniel was chosen as one of the Top 40 to move on to perform live in Los Angeles. His Top 40 performance then helped advance him through to the Top 20, and after his second live performance in the Top 20, Daniel placed 11th in America’s Got Talent, the summer’s top rated television show. Daniel undoubtedly gained priceless experience during this journey.
Throughout Daniel’s time on America’s Got Talent, he and his wife Caroline spoke with hundreds of military families, counseling and mentoring either one on one or speaking at Family Readiness Groups on base. By mid 2009, Caroline self-published a Christian book to further help military families titled, “The Whole Armor of Marriage”.
Since his performance on America’s Got Talent, Daniel has performed and been a key note speaker at the following:
• 9/11 Grand Strand Freedom Fest, Freestyle Music Park, Myrtle Beach, SC
• American Cancer Society Benefit Show, Silver Spur Theater, Salado, TX
• Operation First Responses’ Walk for the Wounded, Mead, PA
• 234th Army Birthday Ball, Hilton Washington Hotel, Washington, DC
• AUSA Military Convention, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC
• Habitat for Humanity Wounded Warrior home dedication, Florida
• USO Retired Veterans Dinner, Killeen TX
As Daniel approached the end of his military commitment late 2009, he was contacted by renowned music producers David Simon and Winston Simone. They wanted him to help create and be a part of a new military themed group to pitch to Sony Music. Through the help of Army Entertainment Director, Victor Hurtado, The group “4Troops” was born and signed to Sony Masterworks.
4TROOPS are United States combat veterans - three young men and one woman who served on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. While overseas, music played a crucial and very personal role in all of their lives. They would sing at everything from large military events to more intimate settings, where they would jam in their bunk after a long day in the field and try to recall a slice of home. They also used their voices at somber occasions like memorial services, where they would sing to remember those that had been lost.
4TROOPS purpose: To sing on behalf of all troops and their family members; to honor their sacrifices and to create awareness for their needs.
The self titled album, which peaked on the Billboard Top 200 at #36, consists of well-known, patriotic, positive pop and country songs along with a couple new ones as well. All of the songs, which touch on long separations and loss of loved ones, fear of war, faith, camaraderie, patriotism and more, take on a special meaning in the context that they are performed by these four combat heroes. The album is produced by Frank Fillipetti (Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, George Michael, and Pavarotti) who produced James Taylor’s Hourglass album which won Fillipetti a Grammy for Best Pop Album and Best Engineered Album in 1998.
Bob Woodruff, the ABC news anchor who was severely injured in Iraq, conducted the first TV interview with 4TROOPS which aired on Good Morning America (ABC) on Tuesday January 26th, 2010.
Notable performances and interviews with 4Troops include:
• PBS Concert - 4Troops: LIVE from the Intrepid
• Good Morning America
• The Today Show
• The View
• CBS Early Morning Show
• Fox n’ Friends
• Mike Huckabee Show
• Laura Ingraham Radio Show
• Boomer and Carton Radio Show
• Larry King Live
• The Joy Behar Show
• Bristol NASCAR Food City 500
• PGA Players Cup
• New York Yankee’s Home Opener
• Boston Red Sox Home Opener
• New York Giants Home Pre-Season Opener
• Don’t Forget the Lyrics ($50,000 won for veteran charities)
• The American Legion 2010 National Conference
• Walmart 2010 National Conference
During Daniel’s tenure with 4Troops, the group conducted a US Military Base Tour, a 50 city National tour, co-authored a book with Newmarket Press titled “4Troops: The Mission is Music”, conducted countless interviews and performed on more TV shows than any other new band in history, according to David Simon.
Now that things have settled down with 4Troops, Daniel performs select shows, works with many veteran organizations and consults with other artists, in everything from songwriting, production, marketing and vocal training to help them become successful. Daniel has also become very active as a worship leader at his church in Wisconsin. The vision of his ministry is to spread the gospel through song. Whether he is worshipping outdoors, at church services, youth events or with veterans, Daniel knows that God remains in control of his talents and future.