Danielle Haskell is a talented 17-year-old singer who resides in Maine and enjoys being a musician. She has turned struggles into song, which is an inspiration to people of all ages. She shared with us more about the meaning behind some of her songs. Get to know her right here!
TDB: So, Danielle, let’s get started off with a little bit about you. What is your story? How did you get into music?
Danielle: I am a 17 year old 2016 Cony High School graduate who currently lives in Maine. I have been playing piano and singing since age 3. Around age 5 or 6 I began taking guitar lessons as well. I love the outdoors and am a great fan for all of my friends who play sports; however, since my family still laughs about the fact that I wanted every kid, including those on the other team, to have a “turn” during my pre-school aged soccer and basketball games, it was clear early on that I was meant for music instead of competitive sports. Even though I would classify myself as reserve, I always enjoyed the stage and putting on a show. My first piano recital was when I was age four. I was quite certain I captivated the audience while I played piano and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Yankee Doodle”. Playing piano and singing in church for my elementary school’s Christmas events by Kindergarten also set the stage for me to continue to perform. My piano / guitar teacher encouraged me to write lyrics at an early age and even though I never really used any of them, the interest developed with his encouragement. Inevitably, it was an out of state music and acting camp / competition of sorts that provided me with an opportunity to connect with others in the music industry. As I now move into college life, I plan to continue to write and record in Nashville while also studying Music Business at Montreat College in North Carolina.
TDB: What/who inspired you to write “Forget”?
Danielle: My grandfather inspired me to see the bigger picture about God not forgetting us, which is the concept behind “Forget”. While growing up, visiting my grandparents daily are memories I will treasure forever. Using love, laughter, loyalty, work ethics and faith they taught me some of the most important lessons in life. For the last six years of my grandfather’s life, our family watched him slowly change due to Alzheimer’s disease. He was the best man I have ever met, the person who understood me best and the person I aspire to be like. At the time Forget was written I was scheduled to be in Nashville for a photo-shoot, to co-write my second song and do the video for my first song “New Day”. Originally I had a completely different plan for my second song; however, just as we arrived in Nashville we received a call that my grandfather had fallen and had a brain bleed. We flew back home for 24 hours, as I wanted to make sure he was ok. By the time we arrived he was hospitalized. We were told not to expect much and that he would likely pass away in a few weeks. I’m not sure why, but during his entire time with Alzheimer’s I was the only person he consistently recognized. He never got my name wrong once. I remember being so afraid he would forget who I was before we arrived; however, when I went over to his bedside and said “Pepere”, he immediately replied “Danielle you’re here.” I had all this fear that I would be forgotten, but he still knew my name. I’m sure you can imagine the tears. When I returned to Nashville and met with my co-writer / producer we discussed my situation and my fear of being forgotten and “Forget” composed. If I am honest, my initial reaction was to question my faith, because I could not fathom why God would pull my grandfather away from me. However, as I began thinking about how extremely blessed I was that, even with a brain bleed, my grandfather still recognized me and still knew my name, I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of love along with the sudden realization that my grandfather had not forgotten me and neither had God. That’s why I really wanted the main message of “Forget” to be even when we feel forgotten we should know that God is still with us.
TDB: What advice would you give to a family battling Alzheimer’s?
Danielle: As I was watching my grandfather struggle with Alzheimer’s I tried to figure out what was going on in his head and I liked to think of it as a puzzle. Imagine when you first open a puzzle and all of the pieces are scattered all over the floor. As life moves on you slowly piece your puzzle together and as you reach your older years your puzzle is almost complete. Each piece of the puzzle represents a memory and when put together, it forms a beautiful picture of your entire life. Envision that all of a sudden someone takes apart your puzzle and scrambles it so it’s scattered all over the floor like it was in the beginning. The puzzle is in the same place and it’s still made up of the same pieces but now you don’t remember where to put them or in what order. Similar to trying to piece the puzzle back together, hearing my grandfather speak showed that there were glimpses of the memories throughout his life but like the scrambled puzzle, he did not know where it belonged. My advice to a family battling Alzheimer’s is to let them try to solve their puzzle. Do not expect them to get it right because to solve a puzzle you have to push through the pointless pieces to get to the one you’re looking for, you have to twist and turn each piece for them to start fitting, and it takes multiple pieces for the picture to start making sense. My grandfather reacted best when he had people supporting him as he was trying to piece together his puzzle but he did not react well when we tried to piece it together for him by giving him all of the answers or expecting him to know. The best way to get through Alzheimer’s is to find humor and to find patience. Laugh with them and make as many memories as possible not for their memories but for yours.
TDB: “New Day” is a great summer tune. What’s the story behind that song?
Danielle: “New Day” was my first time co-writing a song, recording in a real studio and making a video. Even though “New Day” came with a huge learning curve, it still has an impactful meaning. “New Day” is about forgiveness, moving forward, leaving the past behind and starting over. We all make mistakes or find ourselves in circumstances we could not have predicted. There are times when one small moment can be pivotal in our lives, so we need to understand that we can take the steps that are needed to keep ourselves moving forward in the right direction. From every challenge comes a lesson. I have lived my life holding myself to my mistakes while living with no regrets, because I believe that everything, including our mistakes, lead us to where God wants us to be. New Day goes deeper than merely a new day, for me it was about a new day that led to a new life. God gives us endless opportunities to change and find our way back to Him.
TDB: Are you touring or playing any shows this summer?
Danielle: I have not been touring, but I am preparing for the release of my next song. In April, my co-writer and I composed song 3 which I just recorded in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. I’m scheduled to be back in Nashville to record the video for this song in just a few weeks. As soon as the recording, video and art work for the single are all ready to go, the song will be released. I’m really looking forward to talking with fans about the story and meaning behind this song. I’m excited, because, like “Forget”, the lyrics come from a very personal place that should create emotions, bring about awareness and entertain. The message is powerful and I think my fans will really be able to relate and agree.
TDB: Last question, just for fun: What are three songs on your summer playlist?
Danielle: H.O.L.Y., This What You Came For, Record Year
A special thanks to Danielle for taking the time to talk to us. Find her socials below: