“Ripping Callouses off People’s Hearts”: Interview with Indie Music Artist Jennifer Daniels

(Every time I listen to Jennifer Daniels, I’m transported to my college days. Covenant College is a converted 1920’s hotel and grounds (yeah, its as cool as it sounds), so it had a lot of neat little secrets around every corner. Tucker Hall, if I remember right, was old caretaker cottage converted into a coffee house, the Stoplight Cafe. Jenn (also a student at the time) often sang on cool fall nights and transported us to other worlds. That’s what her voice and lyrics do. One moment, they can haunt you deep in your bones (see what I did there? Horror writer, remember?) and then the next moment make you weep with joy. Nostalgia for college? No, because her music still does that. So, I’m really glad to introduce her to a new audience on Geek Goes Rogue.) 

1) As I listen to your stuff and recognize some of the songs from college, I’m impressed with the depth of your writing as a twenty year old. How do you think you’ve progressed from being a wide eyed college kid to a mature woman in your song writing? Do you feel there is any growth or is it just a deeper understanding of what you are writing about? 

At a coffee shop last week, someone came up to me to talk about the music and said that the first time she had seen me play I was wearing shin guards and a soccer uniform, so at least my wardrobe has progressed. The same things inspire me, though: Freedom in being alone, traveling, sitting on the bluff, feeling small, feeling in love, hearing others’ stories…  The songs come from the same heart, but I’ve gotten married since college and I have two kids, so I think my heart is a larger place, or at least I feel things more deeply.  My faith has had a chance to be proven to me, which is a scary process, but precious and rewarding, and I think some of the songs reflect that process, and they’re edgier than I thought would be comfortable for people to hear.  I was a little afraid to risk them publicly, and gratified to find when people tell me how much the music affects them.

2) What does the songwriting process look like for you now and how do you do it in the midst of working, raising kids and being a wife? 

I used to write songs with the same luxury with which I got sick.  Holed up with a bottle of Nyquil and some cozy blankets, and then let it overtake me.  (I don’t really write with the Nyquil.  That could start a great rumor, though, and maybe lead to some decent publicity.)  I don’t have the time to enjoy being sick anymore.  It’s a great loss.  And I can’t just follow the muse every time she calls.  But when she intrudes upon my life loudly enough, or when I’m too full of sorrow or confusion, I find a way to follow.  I’ve always written the way some people journal.  -As a way to study whatever has made me notice it, or as a way to work through something.

3) You and your husband write music, play and tour together. How does that work out on a practical level in how the music is made?

Jeff is the strength behind our whole process, writing and performance, family and life.  He drives us all over the country.  He prays with me.  He notices me.  He is able to gently confront me and with such respect and humor, that I’m disarmed by it.  I would never have been able to do this full time without him.  I would have been too scared, too wounded, too tired, too ignorant.  Plus, he is a kick ass guitar player, and he just generally rocks.

4) How did the new live project come about and where do you hope it leads to? 

I get energized in front of people, and this nice friendship happens between us and the audience where we make each other laugh as we tell stories and sing. We wanted to capture that, and so the CD includes some interaction with the audience between songs, something that our fans say they miss on the studio CDs. We are fully aware that we get to live a life of music because of the people who listen to us, and so we want to give them what they want!

5) What do you really want people to get out of your music and art? How does your faith play into that hope? (here is the place for the ripping off the callous of people’s hearts quote)

I was reminded recently that songwriters are important because they help to tear away the callouses from our hearts.  I want to be one of those callous rippers in this world.  We’re all so busy and tired and distracted.  I want to be a voice that revives.  I want to help people laugh hard and cry hard and recognize Glory.  I want to remind them to invest in what cannot be taken from them.

6) How can people get your stuff, especially the new live album? 

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GGR EXCLUSIVE THIS FRIDAY!!! Concert footage from a recent Jennifer Daniels show. Don’t miss it!


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