Mark “Zooney” Daniels
Co-Founder and Executive Producer
Mark “Zooney” Daniels grew up in Toronto and began playing drums at the age of thirteen. A diligent student, his teacher remarked that he was the next Buddy Rich. Mr. Daniels started playing with local cover bands in high schools and at social parties. After a long hiatus, he took up the drums again and continued his musical training with such esteemed master teachers as Richard Greenspoon, Joaquin Hidalgo and Altaf Vellani. Over the next eight years, Mr. Daniels played with a variety of different bands including Bread from Heaven, Tony Paglia and the Nomads, Big Sugar and Ascension. As a freelance musician, he has performed and recorded with such veteran musicians as Doug Wylde, David Woodhead, Neil Brathwaite, Rich Greenspoon, Waleed Abdulhamid, Anwar Kurshid, Eric Boucher and many others.
Along the way, Mr. Daniels met Joaquin Nuñez Hidalgo, a first-call Cuban Percussionist and Teacher. Friendship followed and Joaquin and Mark collaborated on a project to bring a large-scale music concert to Cuba, using the proceeds to help a Children’s Hospital. During this time, they developed not only an appreciation for each other’s musical talents, but also a deep friendship. In 2014, they formed an eclectic jazz ensemble influenced by rock, funk, Latin, and modern pop music and this became the original vision of what was later to be 7Sould.
Mr. Daniels always tries to stay challenged and keep up his passion for music. His motto is ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’!!!
Joaquin Nuñez Hidalgo
CO-FOUNDER AND MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Born Joaquin Nuñez Hidalgo in Cuba, Mr. Hidalgo was immersed in music at a very young age. His early inspiration was his musically gifted father Porfirio Nuñez, a former singer/guitarist with one of the oldest Cuban orchestras “Brisas de Nipe.” While living in Cuba, Mr. Hidalgo shared the stage with many of Cuba’s greatest musicians.
In 1999, he moved to Toronto and quickly became immersed in the local music scene performing as a drummer and percussionist with such acclaimed Canadian artists as Jane Bunnett, the Canadian Tenors, Bill King, Eddie Bullen, Hilario Durán, and Chucho Valdez’s 2012 Canadian Tour. He has performed in many Jazz Festivals across North America and internationally.
Mr. Hidalgo’s percussion work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, most notably in the 2008 Mirvish Production of the North American theatrical premiere of “Dirty Dancing” as well as performing on the official “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack. His performance with Hilario Durán Trio on “From the Heart” also featuring Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Paquito D’Rivera, won a Grammy nomination and Juno Award for Best CD.
His producing credits include collaboration with pianist Eddie Bullen on “Havana Nights” in 2010, and with Italian singer/songwriter Zucchero on “La Sesión Cubana” for the CD and subsequent World Tour in 2013.
Mr. Hidalgo is an accomplished recording artist, songwriter, musician, exceptional teacher and facilitator. As an educator, he often tours Canada and the United States teaching and giving workshops for colleges and music schools.
CO-DIRECTOR AND CO-CHOREOGRAPHER
Award winning director and producer Michael Challenger is an innovative talent who has worked for over two decades as a musical theatre choreographer and director, film and television director and performer.
The versatile Montreal born native is a triple threat professional in the entertainment industry, who has earned a reputation for his exceptional talents, incomparable 'people skills' and unparalleled work ethic.
His many successful credits include such acclaimed Broadway productions as: the Lion King, Chicago and The Producers; U.S. and Canadian television series, including Fringe (U.S.), Dancing with the Stars (Canada) and So You Think You Can Dance (Poland), as well as major movie network projects such as Where Do We Go From Here, which has garnered nine prestigious awards including Best Direction at the Indie Film Festival in Los Angeles.
In 2007, Mr. Challenger created ANU Entertainment and has built it into one of the leading theatrical production companies in North America. As the founder, executive producer and creative director of ANU Entertainment, he has produced and directed several major productions. Mr. Challenger thrives on passion, commitment, and excellence as a power driven force that will never impede him from attaining his ultimate goals in life.