Born into a strong church-going home, with a God-given gift for singing and a mother who very purposefully developed his and his three sibling's vocal talents, Daniel grew up in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, where he still resides today.
"We would sing at the dinner table," Daniel recalls with a chuckle. "She'd sing a note and we'd have to harmonize with it before she'd serve dinner! But it wasn't a hardship. She really instilled a love for music in us. We formed a family group when I was nine called 'The Austin Family' and we performed, a cappella, all around the area. My older brother sang tenor, my mother was the alto, and my sister and I did the soprano parts."
When Daniel expressed an interest in taking piano lessons, his mother, unable to take on the expense, instead bought him a keyboard which he taught himself to play. Strongly influenced by a number of traditional Gospel greats as a youngster, including the Hawkins Family, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and particularly Daryl Coley, as well as mainstream giants Stevie Wonder and Donnie Hathaway, among others, Daniel's vocal talents developed to a level where he auditioned for and was accepted into a prestigious Maryland high school that focused on music and the arts.
By his later teens, Daniel had discovered a passion for classical music, entering Howard University, where he majored in vocal performance. Daniel was fully prepared for, and anticipating, a career in classical music when he realized the call of Gospel music and ministry on his life. As he states it, with a poetic flare, "I had to put away my passion for my purpose."
Daniel, having sung Gospel all his life, was able to apply the technical expertise and finesse acquired in his classical training to his well-honed Gospel style, adding a powerful and distinctive flair uniquely his own. He conducted the Howard Gospel Choir for three years, and performed regularly in churches in the area, becoming a familiar figure in Gospel circles in metro D.C. Having discovered and developed a hand for songwriting during his years at Howard, Daniel had an impressive catalog of original material to his credit when he signed with OMNI Entertainment and began the pre-productiuon planning and preparation for On My Mind.