- PHOTO PROVIDED
- Danielle Ponder performed at the Hollywood Bowl and on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" in 2022.
Danielle Ponder, ROC Stardanielleponder.com
It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she took five different “Best of Rochester” categories.
Ponder officially arrived on the national scene, playing prestigious venues like the Hollywood Bowl, and performing on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “CBS Saturday Morning.”
She did it while redefining her sound on her debut album “Some of Us Are Brave,” which draws on lo-fi hip-hop beats and intense, hard-hitting soul timbres — a departure from the often overtly positive pop-soul of her previous work.
“It’s really from my soul, and it’s more personal,” Ponder told CITY.
The album and its live interpretation has benefited mightily from the contribution of Ponder’s band, players with precise musicianship and strong Rochester ties.
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- Danielle Ponder performs with her band.
“This whole album was a risk in some ways, a creative risk for Danielle and for myself,” Reese said. “And it's paying off in ways that I couldn't have even predicted.”
Ponder recently reported on her social media accounts that several of her bucket-list festivals had approached her to perform next year.
“I think telling her truth is speaking to a lot of people because these are the truths of a lot of people, you know: the heartbreak, the insecurities, the uncertainties,” Reese said of Ponder. “I think she's just vocalizing what a lot of other people can't vocalize.”
Ponder’s ability to resonate with audiences has a lot to do with her magnetic stage presence. Touring guitarist Garrett Mader has noticed that Ponder consistently establishes a strong emotional connection with her fans.
“It's kind of like an hour or so of therapy every night to go through that with a crowd and win them over,” Mader said. “When she does ‘Creep’ at the end, people are often crying. And it's just a beautiful thing to get to see night after night after night.”
- Max Schulte/WXXI News
- Danielle Ponder performs from her new album, "Some of Us Are Brave," at the Record Archive in Rochester, NY.
“Her voice is unique,” Mader said. “It stands out. The way that she chooses to enunciate is her own, and it’s very engaging. She doesn’t sound like anybody else but herself.”
If you’re not yet aboard the Danielle Ponder train, take a listen and step on up. There’s plenty of room for everyone. — DANIEL J. KUSHNER
Finalists: Cammy Enaharo | Ryan Johnson | Teagan Ward