Danielle Haskell is a 17 year old 2016 High School graduate who currently lives in Maine, US. She has been playing piano and singing since age 3. Around age 5 or 6 she began taking guitar lessons as well. In her interview with Gospel Redefined, she talks about her music, family and shares her vision.
Gospel Redefined: What was it like growing up with your grandparents?
Visiting my grandparents daily was one of the best experiences in my life. My grandfather was the person I aspire to be like. He was a very reserve, ethical, humble and loyal man who loved God and his family above all else. He was the grandfather who put us in a wheel barrel to give us rides, put us up on his shoulders so we could see better or let us help him with his chores outside. Even though it must have taken twice as long to do anything with my help, he always made me feel like I was the best help he had ever had. I use the word humble to describe him as after he passed away our family received many messages from people he had helped in their time of need. Since he was not the type to brag, nor the type to expect anything in return, these stories were all knew to us. He believed that success could be achieved by anyone through hard work. Even though he was born in Canada and loved growing up on a farm until the age of 12, he loved the United States, was extremely patriotic and was very proud to have served in the United States Air Force. For me, he was the person who understood me best. In whatever struggles I encountered, he knew what to say and how to resolve issues with logic and reasoning. He provided me with a calm sense of comfort that will treasure forever.
My grandmother was a bubbly, social, accepting individual who loved people. In ways she was the complete opposite of my grandfather, but like him, faith and family came first. She was that grandmother that would not only let you, she would encourage you to jump in the puddles. She could keep me busy for hours by creating games out of nothing while we had our princess tea parties. My friends looked forward to seeing her at all of my events, because she had a way of making every child feel welcome and special. Even as I grew older, my friends would actually ask to visit my grandparents with me just to see what my grandmother was going to offer for teen age advice. As I and her other grandchildren were reaching the teen years, she made the effort to learn Facebook just to continue to communicate with us on our level. Friends then not only wanted to visit, but also wanted to friend her on Facebook just to see what comment she would make next. Faith was incredibly important and one of my favorite memories was our Sunday evening ritual. Once my grandfather could no longer attend church, my Mom and I would go to their home to watch the local televised mass followed by Joel Olstein. My grandmother valued the messages she received during this time. We would talk about the messages and how they currently applied to our lives. The most important lesson she taught me was above all else be kind. She was a firm believer that nobody had the right to judge others. Our job here on earth was to help each other, not to condemn.
Gospel Redefined: How would you describe your experience with Alzheimer’s Disease?
Even though it may have been sad to watch my grandfather’s memory decline, I always felt he was still there. Each day I visited, it was easy to see glimpses of the person he had always been. I found that if I spoke to him as though nothing had changed and created games to make communication easier, he responded in a way that clearly indicated he was the same man. His words and his speech may have been different, but the meaning behind what he was trying to say was the same as it always would have been. As he grew more frustrated, there were many lessons about love and patience. I felt unbelievably lucky to have visited him every day, because he was the best man I had ever known and even at the end of his life, there was something to be learned. I learned what true love was as I watched my grandmother care for him until the end. I learned what strength was by watching her take care of him as things became more and more challenging. My grandmother took a great deal of pride in the fact that she had the ability to care for the man she loved and respected and she refused to let her own fears change her plans. My grandfather had been a very dedicated grandfather, father and husband and my grandmother now felt it was her turn to provide him with the same care and security he had provided for her all of her life.
Gospel Redefined: Tell us about your relationship with God?
My relationship with God can be described in one word which is constant. 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. I know that as long as I have faith God will take me exactly where I need to be. He is truly always there when you need Him. Even on my worst days when it’s hard to trust, I know that God is there for me and sees the bigger picture that I may not see yet. God is a father full of wisdom and God is a friend full of support.
Gospel Redefined Why Gospel Music?
Even though I love many genres of music, when I thought about my personality, the messages I wanted to send and where I felt comfortable as an artist, Christian music simply made sense. I was playing piano and singing in church for my school’s Christmas events by Kindergarten and even though I would classify myself as reserve, at age 5, I had no fear of playing piano and singing in a church completely packed with people. Once I entered High School, I may have been more private about my religious beliefs, but the influences and attitudes I had early on never changed. There are many ways to praise God and I hoped to be an example of a teen girl who knows the challenges all teens face on daily basis who finds reassurance, guidance and answers in prayer. Since my music has come out, I have received many messages from teens from my area as well as all over the United States talking about the comfort they have found in the lyrics in my songs. There is no better feeling than knowing something I am involved with changed someone’s day.
Gospel Redefined: How do you draw inspirations for writing your songs?
All of the concepts for my songs have been based on what is either currently transpiring or has already happened in my life. Even though I would consider myself a private person, I tend to select experiences that are extremely personal and based on emotions I may not normally discus openly. As I think about how the song applies to my life, I try to consider how others may be able to relate to the same circumstances or emotions. From those thoughts, I try to develop what would be the deeper or even possibly a double meaning for the song. My favorite part of my music has been hearing from others about how the lyrics and concepts have impacted them. Most of the encounters we have in our lives are not unique. Our reactions and emotions may be different to our experiences, but in the end, I’m hoping my music can provide comfort, understanding or a moment of inner peace.
Gospel Redefined: Having good music that appeals to a large audience is a task that can not be achieved single-handedly, who are the people behind your music and ministrations?
Yes it does take a team. So far, I have come up with the concepts and ideas for my songs on my own. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the ability to take these concepts to friends I co-write with, work on vocals with or convey the right emotions in a video.
Gospel Redefined: In a world with countless numbers of artists, how do you plan to make your voice and music stand out?
I pride myself in the meaning behind my songs. My favorite part of having music is hearing about how someone can relate to my lyrics. Even if it is just for a minute, at that point they become a part of my story and I become part of theirs. If a song I am involved in can make someone feel better in any way even for just a few minutes, success can follow.
Gospel Redefined: Three words that describe you?
Quirky, easy-going and friendly
Gospel Redefined: Your advice to the world
My advice to the world is to stay true to yourself. We live in a world that puts a lot of pressures on us, but the people that rise to success are the ones that dare to be different. Everyone has their own path. There is no such thing as two people having the same exact path through life. Some paths may be filled with greenery, and others may be dry as a desert. Some may be flat and some may be steep. The paths may be similar but everyone has their own rocks or fallen trees blocking their way. If you cave to these outside pressures and do things not because you want to, but just simply because your friends do, then you are walking on the path that someone has designed for you. And I ask you, are the people that you are trusting to design your life selfless enough to make decisions that would truly be best for you? And is that how you want to live? Everyone’s outlook on life and perspective of success is different, so do not define your success by someone else’s definition of it. When faced with an obstacle or a tree blocking your path, there are many ways to get around the tree and just because you choose a different way that fits your strengths rather than someone else’s to get around it, doesn’t mean that it is the wrong way. All that matters is getting to the other side.