The power of Danielle Ponder and The Tomorrow People

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

 

Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People hit the stage in an epic performance on Feb. 28 at the Maureen Forrester Hall.

The day long event, which included a speaking engagement and a performance was called For the Love of Justice.

This event was created by Karen Stote and Helen Ramirez, two women and gender studies professors.

Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People not only gave a concert that allowed people to truly think about the lyrics and the meanings behind them but they also provided a multimedia experience of music and visual effects.

The concert was based on three main themes: love, justice, and liberation.

These themes were presented throughout the concert as well as a light show, instrumentals and music videos presented on the projector on stage.

Ponder describes her sound as soul music with a twist.

“I would say my sound is, soul music in the simplest way, it’s essentially gospel, funk, jazz; it’s the black music experience when you think of soul music,” Ponder said.

This concert was truly an experience unlike any other.

One of the best parts about this concert was the voice, which carried a powerful social justice-oriented message.

“I think growing up in the hood — obviously seeing a lot of things around me that I felt were unfair and feeling that personally and I grew up in a neighbourhood that was [filled] with people suffering drug addictions, people in and out of jail — I saw suffering all the time.”

Ponder is not only a singer but a former public defender with a Juris Doctor.

The stories in her songs often reflect the communities and people she has defended, thus providing an emotional experience for many of her audience members.

“The stage is a sacred place and the stage is for a message to be and I really believe that when I’m on stage their is a story to be told, and the stories of the marginalized all over the world, that’s a very important story for me to tell,” Ponder said during her performance.

Before her performance I was able to catch up with Ponder after her workshop, in which she presented to various students in attendance.

She explained that her experience as a public defender has allowed her to tell the stories of her clients using music.

“Being a public defender really has given me so many stories of people who have been marginalized and oppressed and I guess that those stories have informed my lyrics and some of the music that I’ve made,” Ponder said.

“Criminalized”  was one of the songs that carried the strongest message about racialized individuals; this song also carries a strong connection with Ponders experiences working with clients who were treated poorly by police.

“I was at one point representing a lot of young black kids who are being stopped by the police for small offences and that I wrote “Criminalized”,” Ponder said.   

“So it specifically talks about being a young person of colour in the inner city, and what that must feel like to not feel completely safe on your own street in your own home, and to face daily harassment from the people who are supposed to be there to protect you.”

Danielle Ponder grew up in a neighbourhood where she was exposed to the social injustices of systematic discrimination.

These experiences have allowed her to reflect on these issues and create music which will allow for the voices of the marginalized populations to be heard.

“I think growing up in the hood — obviously seeing a lot of things around me that I felt were unfair and feeling that personally and I grew up in a neighbourhood that was [filled] with people suffering drug addictions, people in and out of jail — I saw suffering all the time,” Ponder explained.

“I felt the need to create music that empowered those people and also gave a voice to the people in my community.”

Leave a Reply