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Rochester musician prominently featured in NPR Music’s ‘Tiny Desk’ concert contest

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local musician and former public defender Danielle Ponder is once again making waves. This past week, she was recognized as one of “The Best 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Saw This Week: Volume 6.”

Tiny Desk is a concert series featuring artists all around the globe. They gather around Bob Boilen’s desk — who is the founder of the series, and “All Songs Considered” — for intimate short sets of music. The series has not only received acclaim because of the variety of the shows, but for its exceptional audio quality, thanks to their engineer Josh Rogosin.

Every year, they host a contest to get a new act behind the desk. Submissions come in over Youtube, with artists performing in front of, behind, or around a desk.

Ponder released her video just over a month ago, before strict social distancing measures were put in place. She was even featured on the article’s featured image.

To be clear, this does not mean that she has won the overall contest.

Ponder sang a song she wrote called “Poor Man’s Pain.” In the description of the Youtube video she posted, she said this:

“This song was inspired by Willie Simmons, who was sentenced to life in prison for stealing $9 in 1982,” Ponder said. “The people I’ve represented as a public defender and my brother who was sentenced to 20 years to life.”

MORE: You can watch her on Adam Interviews

The song features the narrator pining for justice for the poor man:

Yeah I'm calling out to the heart of the land/
Whose going to listen to a poor man's pain I am reaching out,/
reaching out again to anyone with the will to understand

Ponder was joined by two Rochester musicians: her musical director, Avis Reese playing keys and keybass, guitarist and producer John Viviani, as well as Ithaca-based drummer Ashley Ickes.

The video was filmed and edited by local videographer Krit Upra, who is also the founder and editor in chief of Floated, an alternative culture magazine in Rochester.

The audio was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Wicked Squid Studios by owner and operator Josh Pettinger.

Ponder is the not the first music act in Rochester to achieve this recognition. Former Rochester band, Passive Aggressives Anonymous, was featured in NPR Music’s article: “The Early-Bird Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Love.”

Their entry was a satirical song called “Middle Class Male Cry.”

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