Danielle Hope Edwards: gospel-inspired sound & the healing power of music

Singer-songwriter sits down with The Journal

Danielle Hope Edwards.
Credit: 
Supplied by Danielle Hope Edwards
Edwards’ two recent singles are infused with love.
 
Her songs “Love Stands” and “Your Truth” are filled with stripped down lyrics and the musical influences of soul, gospel, and R&B—giving her a unique voice as an emerging Canadian artist.
 
“Whether you are willing or not to act in love, love is always there,” said Danielle (Danni) Hope Edwards, Con-Ed‘23, in an interview with The Journal. “I want to put love out into the void.”
 
Edwards started writing music at the age of six, influenced by her musical family and her experience singing in church.
 
“It was a way for me to express whatever I was feeling in that moment,” Edwards said. “I was
just singing what I felt, and I made it rhyme.”
 
The artist has always gravitated towards gospel music, and that influence is palpable in her art.
 
“I just loved the energy from gospel, it just gets you in the mood to sing and dance,” Edwards said.
 
“I also loved the richness and hope of the lyrics—how every line is intentional. A lot of gospel is about overcoming struggles, and a lot of negro spirituals are associated with the genre.”
 
While expressing her feelings has always been a driving force in Edwards’ song-writing, it has only become more nuanced and refined over time.
 
“I would say the relationship between my music and mental health has kind of become more intertwined as I get older,” Edwards said. “In my teen years, I felt like I had to close up and it showed up in my lyrics. I was just trying to write something that sounded nice.”
 
“As I continue to get older, I don’t think about anyone hearing my songs, I just write for me—it’s kind of like therapy in a way,” Edwards said.
 
Edwards described the heartfelt process of writing “Love Stands” in July when the song became a response to the political and social issues around the world.
 
“When I wrote ‘Love Stands,’ it was very recently after the murder of George Floyd. I was thinking about Black Lives Matter and the protests, and the Wet’suwet’en blockades, and the poverty of children in Yemen,” Edwards said.
 
“There were all these global issues in my mind, and I had an opportunity to write something because I want to get a message out there.”
 
“Love Stands” is an emotional ballad backed by simplistic piano and heightened with motivational lyrics that are still personalized to Edwards. The song speaks to change driven by unconditional love. Edwards’ lyrics are centered around empathy and human collaboration, offering that “Unity is when we choose to walk in a shared name / And let love be that name.”
 
“The main message is to walk a mile in your neighbour’s shoes,” Edwards said. “Love is not just a giddy feeling. Love is an action.” 
 
Being one of the only racialized individuals in a predominantly white community growing up has also influenced the themes in Edwards’ writing and how she chooses to approach her activism.
 
“I grew up in Prince Edward County, and my family is literally the only Black family for 30 minutes,” Edwards said. “Being one of the only Black children in school made me feel really isolated.”
 
Growing up, Edwards was constantly made aware of how different she was from the rest of her peers.
 
“A lot of the things that were different about me were pointed out, sometimes in microaggressions and sometimes in flat out discrimination,” Edwards said.
 
“I wanted to write something to express this, not in a way to condemn those who have hurt me, but in a way that I can express my healing.”
 
Inspired by Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, and Ella Fitzgerald, Edwards plans to channel her emotional growth into her lyrics and release her first EP of original songs soon.
 
“It’s going to be an expression of me,” Edwards said. “I’m really excited to put more of my original songs out into the world, and hopefully someone will be able to relate to the lyrics.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.