Danielle Ponder made a bold decision a week before her 40th birthday to quit her job as a public defender to pursue her passion as a full-time singer. Since childhood, all she had loved was to sing. Growing up, her father, a pastor, will rally the family around an old yellow piano to play.
Her music was influenced largely by gospel songs because her father frowned on secular music. Ponder’s biggest musical influences came from blues singers Koko Taylor and Big Mama Thornton, and the strong impact of jazz artist Nina Simone.
At 16, Ponder’s family established a band with her as the lead singer. But, she decided to leave home and the family band to pursue a law degree at Northeastern University in Boston. When one of her brothers, Dwayne Ponder, was imprisoned for 20 years for robbing a bar, she decided to become a lawyer.
Inspired by the unjust sentencing of her brother, Ponder embarked on a career as a public defender. Her resolve to challenge the state’s mandatory minimum guidelines fueled her determination to bring about change.
However, the year 2021 marked a pivotal moment for Ponder. Just a week before her 40th birthday in December, she made a life-altering decision: she walked away from her role as a dedicated public defender. This bold move signified her unwavering commitment to her true passion – music.
But, this decision did not come off quickly. In 2018, she briefly left her legal job in pursuit of a music career but returned when her expectations didn’t materialize. Now, back on a similar choice, Ponder intends to give it a different weight of commitment.
It doesn’t appear worrying this time. She has secured a record deal that would provide her a buffer this time around. Her debut album titled “Some of Us Are Brave” has garnered enthusiastic reviews for its captivating blend of R&B, soul, and trip-hop genres, all accentuated by her exceptional voice. The album’s success led to a whirlwind of nonstop touring, with performances spanning various locations from Albany to Amsterdam and London. Notably, she even graced the stage at Lollapalooza in Chicago, where her powerful voice and remarkable journey have been praised.
Looking ahead, Ponder is gearing up to launch a deluxe version of her album next month, featuring live tracks and a new single called “Roll the Credits.” Her tour schedule remains packed until late October, a testament to her growing popularity.
“I used to always think you had to write these powerful anthemic songs like “you can do it, girl, you the best,” she told CNN. “Then I realized I can write these songs about the parts of myself that I’m not happy with. I’m learning that you can empower people through vulnerability and authenticity,” she said.