Danelle Harvey Blog
Things can be so strange. As strange as things can be, I think that it is important to be able to laugh at the odd little mishaps that happen in my life. One has to, surely? My mum always said “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” It’s funny how although we never had much of a relationship, some of her ways and sayings spring to mind when least expected.
Of all of the tough situations that I have been through, I have had a couple of great opportunities that ended up far from my expectations. Serious, oh no, did that just happen? That type of thing. Have you ever had laughable or even cringe worthy things happen in your career to such extent that you are stumped as to why?
I’ll give you just one example out of a number of things that have happened to me. First of all, let me make it clear that I am optimistic; I believe that I am the key to my failure or success. I take responsibility for my actions. But some things are just mind-blowingly incredible and events sometimes feel too surreal to be true.
Take acting for example. Most of my life has been about music, but, due to a conversation with a friend a few years ago, I have now ended up with the word “actress” as a job title in my resume. I have to say, I fell into acting accidentally. I hadn’t planned or expected that to happen.
This is a true story: I had been off work sick due to a bad back. I was and had always been a workaholic, I didn’t rest, ever, so my body made me rest. It knew that it would be the only way to halt my non-stop activity. It said “STOP, woman!” I was out for months. I had a young daughter at the time and wasn’t too pleased that I would not be able to work and bring in the dough for my little angel. I had taken a brief break from the music industry prior to the back issue, so at the time it kicked in I was burnt out and disillusioned with the whole game. I had had enough and was on a ‘music’ break.
So, a friend who had started acting was certain that I’d be good at it. Who knows why? I did a casting and weeks later I got my first role.
Not long after a few roles and walk on parts, thanks to my daughter, who had been selected to be in the film as one of the little ‘uns, I got a part and somehow ended up on set sitting next to Hugh Grant and Toni Collette. Days later after filming with Hugh, there was also the young Nicholas Hoult and more actors I admired at the time in front of me. Life is nuts! I’ve never been the starstruck type, but being from the music industry, this was like a holiday! It was a brilliant experience. I got to see firsthand that Hugh is actually a brilliant actor – he is funny and great at improvising too. I ended up working with him again, along with Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth on Bridgette Jones, the Edge of reason. That’s great right? Here was the blossoming beginning of a totally unexpected new career. Well, the craziest “how on earth?” part is this: In the credits of this smash hit feature film About a Boy, (an opportunity for me to make the break and get some credibility and exposure as an actress) my name shows as, get this: Danielle Harvey.
In case you didn’t realise, my name is Danelle, not Danielle! No ‘i’! So, just because the person who did the titles obviously didn’t have the best proof and name reading skills, I’ll forever be known on celluloid as Danielle Harvey. Check out the film’s IMDB page if you don’t believe me! (Scroll down for “Danielle Harvey”). Here’s the link: About a Boy film credits on IMDB – yep, that’s me.
Now isn’t that a right pain in the noodles?
What could I do? The film was already packaged and ready for the masses. For me and where I was at that time, this was a major disaster on a scale of I couldn’t tell you. If you have ever had your plans for your career scuppered by an innocent mistake that you couldn’t rectify, then you know how I felt then and sometimes still feel to this day. Have you? If so, please DO let me know below. Let’s commiserate together.
Another reason this was a kind of important is this. Being indie and doing everything myself, I have to big up everything I do and be my own publicist! If you are a fellow indie, you know what I mean and you know how we do… How could I possibly publicise that one? “Oh yes, I had a part in that film. My name is Danelle but my acting name is actually Danielle Harvey – for professional purposes.” Yes, I felt I had no choice but to make it so – those exact words were blurted out once when I was put on the spot about it during a live TV interview for my album, Tortured Soul. I’d felt quite – duh! I didn’t know what else to say that would not sound thoroughly peeved about the credit non-name checking person. Yes, yes, “love, light, peace, grrrr….!”
In fact, I kept the job off of my CV (resume… blah!) for years. I realise now though that I should have kept it on there. We mustn’t let things hold us back. That did in a way. Although, I kept moving forward in other ways, but I kind of felt like an imposter. Which is ridiculous. It’s still me! I am learning to laugh at it now, though, alongside other crazy episodes in my life. I could let you in on a few. You would laugh your head off! Like that time the absolute gent Max Beesley once whispered in my ear on set, on another film. Basically, I’d had a wardrobe malfunction and the world and its mother were witness to the fact. He politely informed me about it. OMGiddyAUNT!! I cringe to this day about that one!
But, I have to look on the bright side, I got to hear his Mancunian accent up close, and also got noticed by the whole cast and crew, even though that was the least ideal way for that to happen. Trust me, you would be quite embarrassed too!
Thanks Max, for letting me know – you saved me from further embarrassment. I’ll cringe about it forever, but I’ll also look on the bright side and will be forever grateful!
Readers, be aware that the full story and explanation will never be told. I just couldn’t. It’s far too embarrassing… **AWWWWWWWW CRINGE!***
As always with my life experiences, there has to be a moral to this story. Now I’m not saying that I’m no good at acting, but it is clear that singing is my bag. I see those two experiences (along with many others that I won’t divulge at the mo) as a blatant sign from the universe to keep on keepin’ on warblin’. The universe has its way of advising me to stick to what I am good at!
Wouldn’t you agree? If you want to judge for yourself, have a listen to a snippet of one of my albums: Only Human – EP
People, for the sake of my sanity and more importantly my career, do your part, buy my music and help keep me away from film sets, haha!
Have a good one,
p.s. Your turn. Any embarrassing anecdotes you’d like to share? Go on, I shared one of mine with you! Do comment below! Ta. x
I don’t think that I can aptly express to you how thrilled I am to have found music and that it has made such a difference to my life. I don’t take it for granted. I’m sure you have your own connection to music. For me, it helped me to find my purpose. Basically, I didn’t know how to connect with others as a child. I was shy, and to some extent, still am, socially awkward.
This ‘nerd’ has been given opportunities that enabled her (me) to explore something that had awoken inside. I have experienced distressing experiences, abuse, bullying and other crazy stuff that no one deserves (another post!) – all I have wanted to do since I was a child was to sing or create new music and to unleash the pain inside as well as to be a voice for the voiceless. I am so thankful that I am able to do both.
Thanks to music, particularly TV shows like Fame (thank you Leroy, Bruno, Lydia, Doris, et al.) and learning to sing in the gospel choir, this geek/nerd, smarty pants – Billy no mates with the NHS glasses – found a way to communicate and connect with others. I found a way to express myself. Life became exciting. I’d perform classical violin in recitals one moment, then I’d perform hybrid classical/pop compositions during school breaks! My awkwardness disappeared whenever I played. My sadness stopped during the time I poured my heart and soul into whatever I was performing. I’d found a creative outlet through my music and I could write and sing and let go for the few moments I was able to – whether I was in my bedroom, on stage, or in the studio.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to share my experiences and successes and help others heal. I have been able to represent on prominent campaigns, such as with the UK homeless charity Shelter as an ambassador in its Now is the Time Campaign , and participate as a music education partner with the former Mayor of London; I’ve been a voice for equitable business exchanges as a fair trade music pioneer. I’ve also spoken up in public and on television shows about the effects of domestic violence on children and the abused individual, and helped to make political lawful changes towards community violence, and much more besides. What is great is that I am still moving forward! I am still here!
I am constantly blown away by the messages I get telling me how a song or performance touched the listener or helped them through something, made them smile, helped them to remember joy, or gives them hope. I can’t tell you how honoured I feel to know that, when I was just being sincere and singing my truth. Below is just a snippet of reviews that state this:
It feels so good to have made a positive difference – ‘make a positive difference’ is one of my mottos in life. Yes, I am vulnerable as I tell my story. I’m a private person who has to figure out how to retain some privacy while living my calling. It is a challenge. However, I am also a fighter. I am strong. So, I will not disappear. I have the power to live on my own terms. And, I realise now, thanks to the messages I receive, that by sharing my story through music, someone else may get the courage to stand up for themselves, protect themselves, report an incident, know they are worthy of goodness, that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with them and that they are not alone.
I am thrilled to be able to let go and ‘escape’ through my music. Anyway, the reason for this long post (thank you for sticking with me!) is to tell you that I hope that you have ‘that thing’ of your own with which you can be free and let go. If not 100%, to some extent in your life. It may not be singing, it might be reading, writing, baking, running, cycling, hiking, helping others in some way. Anything really, just something that you do in which your light shines or you feel activated. It might be listening to music. Listening to others’ music certainly helped and helps me daily! If not, go and find it. Or if you know about it and don’t engage with it enough, embrace it. Please!
I am thankful to have discovered ‘my thing’ early on. Harsh incidents led to my discovery of music. Without music, I’m not sure I’d have been as accomplished or even made it to today.
After experiencing all I have, one element of importance in my professional music life has been protecting myself (and those dear to me) from anything that does not feel right or feel that it has integrity. I am proud to have listeners and fans (whom I can call friends now) who align with my message. I do value that connection. Real connection is what it is all about for me. I feel fortunate that I can make a positive difference and connect with beautiful souls around the planet just because of my voice.
If you would like to hear some music documenting some of this amazingly exhilarating journey, click here to listen to my EP, Only Human EP .
Music is my ‘thing’. Before you go, do share what YOUR ‘thing’ is in the comments below.
I wanted to show some love to the females with guitars who touched my soul and impacted my life in some way. Many of them influenced me to become the singer/songwriter guitarist I am today. It was first about the timbre of their voices for me. And by the time MTV came around, it was a delight rediscovering the artists I had already loved in a visual way!
Although I got into guitar playing quite late, I was always an air guitarist. Of course, I was a singer first and foremost, and I started on violin aged around 8 and drums aged 11. But no matter what, there was always a fascination with guitar based music. Even simple stuff. A seemingly typical thing of my West Indian parent's generation is their love of Country music. Amongst the other musical influences in my life, Gospel Country music was on regular rotation on the stereo in my house! I knew a trillion versions of 'I'll fly away'. There was the straight laced version, the chilled out 'John Denver-esque' with a Caribbean twang version, all the way through to the jump up and catch the spirit version. I had lots of influential versions to play with! The guitars on the Gospel Country brought a secular sound into my world. That may well be where my fascination was piqued.
Before I get too lost down memory lane, here is my top ten list:
1. Joan Armatrading is SO phenomenal and unique. As a young Brit, watching this regal lady throw down with her guitar was awe inspiring! She encapsulated a sound that suited this young little Londoner who had a love for many styles of music.
Website: Joan Armatrading
2. My mum and I were fascinated with Suzy Quatro. I particularly adored her and her jumpsuits. Funnily enough, I am jumpsuit/all-in-one/romper obsessed to this day! ;) To me, Suzy had a young, feminine and capable kind of fresh appeal.
Website: Suzy Quatro
3. I loved Dolly too. Her song writing and voice was something else. I loved that she was a girly girl. I was always a tomboy, but I started wearing make up at around 11 and perhaps it was because I was the only girl in the household with 6 brothers, but I appreciated her talent and capability of glam ness whilst enduring and crushing it in a male orientated world. That go getting attitude without compromise is one that is very familiar to me.
Website: Dolly Parton
4. Carole King (along with James Taylor, whose music I adore) - what can I say? I am a real lover of song songs, love songs, angsty songs, real feelings songs. Soul filled music is what it is all about - the ones that tell you a story in singer-songwriter style. A pattern emerges...
Website: Carole King
5. During my teens it was all about Tracy Chapman. Her impact on the scene and on me with Fast Car was incredible. Each time I heard and watched her perform I'd be in awe.
Website: Tracey Chapman
Fast forward to recent years, Sheryl Crow, Nikki Costa, Eva Cassidy and Amy Winehouse were awe inspiring to me.
6. I loved Sheryl Crow's stories and the big, singalong choruses. That's another thing that I would say I'm all about. Ballads, stories, and big singalong choruses. I love a good key change, too, but that's for another blog!
Website: Sheryl Crow
7. What can I say! My ex and I discovered her together. I can't remember how. We were rapt the second we heard her, though. I can tell you that much. We bought the book that was out at the time and found everything we could on her and we'd listen in silence, blown away. Every so often I'll put on a mix of all her songs. No matter what, I always get the shivers when I hear her voice. So much soul and melancholy!
Website: Eva Cassidy
NIKKA COSTA and INDIE ARIE
8. Well, I'm putting these two together only because I promised my top 10. Otherwise they'd have a space of their own! I first heard Nikka when I was Holland. Her music was playing on a tv show and I was floored. It was like electric, Prince inspired, soul, rock, funk, and so much more! She embodied many elements of who I am. Although my music is unlike hers, I adore her for encapsulating a side of me that comes out when, say, I'm hanging with George Clinton and P-Funk, for example! Oooh yes, baby! ;)
Indie Arie is something else too. I love that she is so chill and in charge. Ready for love is the song that gets me every time! It is simply beautiful. As I write this I realise that I must do a separate post about the particular songs that I love from each of these great ladies, otherwise this post will be 20 pages long!
Website: India Arie
9. I met Amy during our sound checks when we billed together at a gig in Notting Hill. I fronted my rock band back then and wasn't playing guitar live at the time - I only played guitar to write. I loved all her work, but particularly adored her first album in which she played guitar. The soul and rawness in her performances were music to my ears - still is. It connected with me as that was how I saw myself as a musician. On guitar, feminine yet strong, and telling it like it is with raw passion and soul. She was special. It was so cool when she gave me props after my sound check, too. I respected her, also. Legend.
Website: Amy Winehouse
SISTER ROSETTA THARPE
10. On to the final singer. And as they say, last, but by no means least. Just before my hiatus, I met a fab musician on Maui who introduced me to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. He really dug my voice and style and mentioned her. The minute I heard her, I realised that she had been that link. I feel as though we were connected in some way with regard to the way she sings and how I would like to play the guitar. Perhaps she is my spiritual music mother! It feels that way. So many coincidences that I won't divulge here, but I feel as though I knew what she was all about. And what an incredible performer and pioneer! I aim to be as good on the guitar as that one day. In my head, that's how I play though! That will do for now until it's a reality. And if you know anything about me, it will be. Until then I'll continue with my air guitar prancing!
Website: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
So, there we have it. My top ten. Looking at the list, I see the mixes of influences that encompass my sound. From the rock voice huskiness and the songwriter folk, gospel and country influences to the soulful and emotion filled rawness. Soul acoustic folk rock. C'est a moi!
My top 10 female singer/guitarists in order of discovery:
2. Suzy Quatro
3. Carole King
4. Dolly Parton
6. Sheryl Crow
7. Nikka Costa/ India Arie
8. Eva Cassidy
10. Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Who are YOUR top 5 (or even 10) female singers who play guitar? Comment below and share the post!
If you're an artist, I invite you to join in on the convo, too. Let me know your faves in line with your genre of music. Comment below, and tag me in a similar post. Let's get a tag thing goin'! I look forward to it!
If you're a lover of female singer guitarists, you can get a free exclusive version of my single here: Exclusive Danelle Harvey Download