KCRW Article: Writing legal briefs to R&B lyrics: Danielle Ponder commits to music

“I knew I just couldn’t do both. It was either music or it was law, and music was my number one love,” says singer Danielle Ponder. She worked as a public defender for five years, then decided to pursue her music full-time.

While Danielle Ponder pursued a music career, she spent years working in the public defender’s office in her hometown of Rochester, New York. Her songs reflect her experience defending poor clients in court. She recently left that office to commit to music full-time. She’s now on tour and will perform at LA’s School Night and The Theatre at Ace Hotel next week. Her debut album, “Some of Us Are Brave,” comes out this September.

Ponder says she grew up around music, as her dad is a singer, songwriter, guitar player, and pastor. “Most of my life, he was singing only gospel music, and we could not listen to secular music. But ironically, in his later years, he’s been writing love songs. So it’s come a long way.”

She adds that as a teenager, she received her first guitar from her father, and it became a refuge.

Her dad is proud of her music now, though she admits, “When I tell people I’m an artist, my dad, if he’s there, will interject and say, ‘She’s an attorney.’ I think that’s more his pride.”

What led Ponder to law in the first place? She explains that her brother was sentenced to 20 years to life for robbery when she was 16 years old, and she decided to become a lawyer through years of visiting him behind bars.

“At 16, I didn’t really understand mandatory minimums and [the] ‘three strikes, you’re out’ [law]. But as I would visit him and talk to him about the criminal justice system, I realized that the reason my brother was there was because of policy. And I always felt like if it’s a policy, then we can write different policies. So I was very interested in criminal justice reform.”

Her brother didn’t have a great relationship with his public defender, she notes, so throughout her career, she focused on building trust and clear communication with her clients. “I really try to treat every client as if this was my brother facing time or facing the situation.”

After two decades in prison, her brother was released and began working as a welder, she shares.

Read more at    https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/press-play-with-madeleine-brand/wildfires-abortion-fox-news-music/danielle-ponder