(Originally written by Scott Gudell)
The back story is almost as dramatic as the tidal wave of sounds cascading from the stage whenever singer Danielle Ponder performs. She grew up in the inner city in a family that always revered and respected music. She’s the daughter of a preacher man yet she’s had family members jailed. She’s a public defender by day and a musician by night and throughout it all, she’s as positive, upbeat and focused as can be. As she told Jeff Spevak in the fall of 2016 for an article in the daily paper, “I write about heartbreak and romantic love, or I write about social and political issues, or personal freedom…” She routinely and confidently takes complete control of a club or concert hall for several hours (including a memorable salute to 2016 Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductee and James Brown alumni Pee Wee Ellis). Although Ms. Ponder generates the high wattage power from the stage, it’s ultimately the audience’s responsibility to capture the energy and to use it in a positive manner going forward.
Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People took the stage at Three Heads Brewing right at 8p on Friday March 3, 2017. What started out as a brisk, cold night turned into a fierce storm a few hours later…both inside and out. Served up with brisk, cold beers and ales with musical names such as Strawbeery Fields Lager, Rochestafarian Scotch Ale and Ring of Fire IPA, Ponder and her tight band went for it right from the beginning with “Something Funky.” Channeling the soul of Aretha, the style of Amy and the potency of Adele, Danielle Ponder built layer upon layer of sight and sound to create an intoxicating presentation. From 60s gospel and soul to 70s reggae, right up to today’s rap, Ponder pushed, prodded and propelled. With compelling originals such as “Three Word Revolution” (there’s that ‘three’ again) to “All I Know” (“I wanted you/ you needed me / you told me you’d be better”), Ms. Ponder turned in a passionate, blistering show.
When it came time for an extended encore, Ms. Ponder unleashed a dynamic version of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” and used the glory of a gospel sound to confirm and uplift. She bravely guiding us away from guns pulled from the gutter, weapons that destroy and denigrate our people and our society.
Was the audience with her? Yeah! Does she…and the people…have the power? After a show like that…triple Yeah !!!