He was about 8 or 9 years old when he
realized what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
After listening to his father, an
accomplished musician, play with his friends, he realized that was the life for
“I took after him from an early age,”
said Daniel Kalisher, a 2009 graduate from the University of North Florida’s
Department of Music. “And I really haven’t changed my life goal since I was
really young. I wanted to be a musician, play guitar and tour. Now I’m doing
what I saw myself doing when I was a kid. How crazy is that?”
Kalisher has played guitar and toured with the backing bands
for Drake Bell, the former star of
the Nickelodeon hit TV show “Drake and Josh,” and “Glee” star Matthew Morrison.
The tour with Morrison took him across the United States and Canada while they opened
for multi-platinum boy bands New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. He is
currently writing, producing and playing for several artists in Los Angeles.
Looking back on his rapid-fire career trajectory,
Kalisher said it wouldn’t have been possible without his undergraduate
experience at UNF.
The South Florida native started playing the guitar in
elementary school and was continually pushing himself to get better. And when
he wanted to take his craft to the next level, he came to UNF’s tremendous
Music Flagship Program.
“I wanted to move into this uncharted territory
and really challenge myself, so I decided to pursue jazz music,” he said. “I went
to another school for my first year, but that wasn't really happening for me.
At the time, I kept hearing through the grapevine that UNF was amazing and
would be the place for me. So I checked it out.”
Kalisher first saw a performance by jazz guitar
professor Barry Greene and had to pick his jaw up from the theater floor.
“I was awestruck,” he said. “His skill was just
on another level. That’s what made me realize that UNF was definitely the right
spot. If I could learn from him, then I’d be good.”
He said the program’s focus on giving
students hands-on learning experiences in the form of regional and national
performances helped push him to get better.
“You really improve when you’re up there
in front of a ton of people,” he said. “You get that rush of everyone watching
you, and you just relive all the times you’ve practiced. The faculty prepared
Greene said he remembers Kalisher fondly
as a skilled guitarist with the determination to go far.
“Daniel was always a fantastic student,
very disciplined and focused,” Greene said. “His primary goal was to move to
Los Angeles and get on the road with some performing act, and he pulled it off
in less than a year. In the area of pop and rock music, he was always a standout.
We loved having him at UNF.”
Kalisher said his priorities to become a better
musician and consistently challenge himself were met — and then some — at UNF.
And he appreciated that each of his professors allowed him to explore his
interests — pop and rock music — while making his way through the jazz studies
“They didn't try to put me in a box,” he said.
“And I’m a more worldly musician because of it. The things I learned at UNF
helped me get to this point, whether it’s standing in front of an audition room
or performing in front of a crowd. That practice — from working on the basic
mechanics of playing and reading music to playing with players who were better
than me — prepared me for everything.
was just such a humbling place for me. Everyone was so cool and so nice. No
matter where I go, I never want to forget where I came from.”