Q&A with Danielle Ponder

Singer-songwriter and vocal powerhouse from Rochester, NY, Danielle Ponder was kind enough to answer some questions we had for her. She, along with Nick Hakim is a featured artist at this spring’s edition of birnCORE Live on Friday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. She will also be joining us on Saturday, April 20 for BIRN Alive at 4:00 p.m. for an exclusive interview and live set.

Interview by Liv Field

Being a strong female performing artist, what advice would you give to other aspiring female musicians when it comes to commanding a room, and not being underestimated?

D: I never think I can’t command a room I never think I am not strong. Being a woman is powerful and I carry all of that power with me on stage. I’ve never doubted it. I looks at those who came before me, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Big Mama Thornton, there was nothing small about their presence

What are some of the foundational values that help you in the music industry?

D: Always create to inspire. Always create from an authentic place. Worry not about the industry just keep creating. No one can do what you do, no one.

When you perform, what do you hope to bring to your audience?

D: My father is a preacher and every Sunday after his sermon people would come up to him and say how they were leaving church feeling better than when they came, or how something he said inspired them, comforted them. That’s what I want when I leave the stage. I want to leave a mark on people, something that makes them leave the concert feeling lighter, higher.

What has been the most memorable show you have ever played?

D: the most memorable show I played was at Attica Correctional Facility. Music has an amazing way of blurring the lines that divide us. I watched both inmate and guards clap their hand and sing along. Some of the men picked up instruments and played with us or sang. In a place where they are treated as less than human for one moment, their humanity and talent was recognized and honored.

Who are your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing your own songs?

D: Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott and more recently Laura Mvula.

Were there any live performances you saw when you were younger that made you think that you wanted to be up there?

D: I didn’t go to any concert when I was young. My father was pretty strict so we couldn’t listen to secular music. But I remember seeing Erykah Badu when I was in my early twenties and thinking “wow I want to command the stage like that. I want to be that fearless and creative live and direct.”

What made you think of “The Tomorrow People” for your band?

D: The idea for Tomorrow People was really a nod to the artist. Artists create the future, they create the things that don’t currently exist. Whether musicians or visual artist, our job is to bring forth the future in the way that only our unique expressions can.

What ways has being a defense attorney/speaker helped you in your music career?

D: Being a lawyer has taught me to think strategically. So in many ways, it has helped me organize my music career and to develop a music business model that can sustain me.

What album do you listen to when you are feeling low?

D: Anything by Nina Simone or Aretha Franklin’s Precious Lord.

How did you get to where you are today?

D: I felt the fear but I did it anyway. I think all things are possible and it is my job to create my reality.

Tickets to birnCORE Live are now on sale here. Admission is $20 and $15 with a Berklee student ID. Get your tickets before this show sells out!

Click here on April 19 at 8:00 p.m. to listen to birnCORE Live with Nick Hakim and Danielle Ponder!

Click here on April 20 at 4:00 p.m. to listen Danielle’s live performance on BIRN1 !