Danielle Ponder. Credit: Newport Folk Festival.

Newport Folk Festival today announced that Danielle Ponder has joined its 2023 festival lineup. Ponder, who is making her return to Newport, is scheduled to perform at Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

More about Danielle Ponder from her bio on her website;

Bravery can take many forms. For Danielle Ponder it took the shape of a leap of faith: leaving her successful day job working in the public defender’s office in her hometown of Rochester to devote herself full-time to sharing her powerful voice with the world. 

The singer-songwriter’s mesmerizing eight song debut Some of Us Are Brave reinforces that her faith was not misplaced, and her leap has been rewarded with a safe landing. 

Written and recorded over three years, the album is a refreshingly original, shiver-inducing mix of pop, R&B, blues, rock, and moody trip-hop topped by Ponder’s celestial voice— an instrument that can plumb melancholy depths with a heartsick murmur and scrape the sky with hurricane force wails. 

The sixth of seven children, Ponder had always been musical but chose to pursue a career in law after her brother received a 20-year sentence due to a “three strikes” law. But even as she became a tireless advocate for justice in her community—first as a public defender and later as a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer in that same office—the music was never far from her heart as she played in bands and wrote songs, first between classes, then between cases. 

“I loved being a public defender, I loved standing next to my clients and advocating for them,” says Ponder. “But it came to the point where I had to choose.”  And so, she leapt.

YouTube video

On Danielle’s behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to the Center For Community Awareness which provides services to people and communities impacted by the criminal legal system. Funds will help support the creation of a recording studio at their Youth Center in Brooklyn to provide audio engineering workshops for 50 youth involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal legal system.

The sold-out 2023 Newport Folk Festival will take place July 28 – 30, 2023, at Fort Adams State Park.

2023 Newport Folk Festival Lineup

This announcement is just one of several recently made by the Newport Folk Festival. The festival’s Artist Gives program, which donates funds to music education programs for every artist on the lineup, has also seen donations made to various other charities.

Among the previously announced lineup artists is Abraham Alexander, who will perform on Sunday, July 30. Born in Greece to parents of Nigerian descent, Abraham Alexander moved to Texas with his family at age 11, determined to escape the racial tensions they faced in his birthplace, Athens.

In the making of his debut EP, Alexander traveled from Fort Worth to London, shaping his songs with elements of soul, hip-hop, and blues. He is currently working on his follow-up album with Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee).

On Abraham’s behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Gladney Center for Adoption, a nonprofit based in Fort Worth, Texas. The funds will be used to provide music therapy for 40 children at their adoptee camp (Camp Forge) this summer. NFF also provided a grant to Abraham to visit their facilities in February to meet families on campus at Gladney who are learning and getting equipped for their adoption journey.

Nanna Hilmarsdóttir, an Icelandic singer-songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the indie folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men, will perform on Saturday, July 29. On her behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Daniel’s Music Foundation, which provides music instruction, performance, and social opportunities to adults and children with disabilities. Funds will be used to provide free music instruction to adults and children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities at their New York center.

Bartees Strange, a rising musician and songwriter hailing from Mustang, Oklahoma, who has been making waves in the music industry with his unique blend of rock, hip-hop, and indie-pop, who will perform at Fort Adams State Park on Saturday, July 29.

Orville Peck, a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, known for his distinctive style that blends classic country and western with dark, cinematic elements, will perform on Sunday, July 30. He first gained attention in 2017 when he released his debut single, “Big Sky,” under the pseudonym Orville Peck. On Orville’s behalf, the Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Fender Play Foundation, which provides new Fender guitars, basses, and ukuleles to elementary and middle school students. Funds will be used to support audio and visual recording of an end of year showcase for students from 10 elementary schools to perform for the community at an outdoor park in Los Angeles

The Backseat Lovers, an indie rock band from Salt Lake City, Utah, who will perform on Saturday, July 29. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Harmon, drummer Juice Welch, bassist and backing vocalist Jonas Swanson, and lead guitarist and keyboardist Ethan Christensen. On behalf of The Backseat Lovers a donation has been made to the Nurture the Creative Mind, an organization in their home state of Utah that provides free multimedia experiences for youth including music production, recording and film. 

Jupiter & Okwess, a Congolese band that has garnered international recognition for its unique fusion of traditional Congolese rhythms with contemporary rock and funk influences, will perform on Sunday, July 30. The band is known for its high-energy live performances and has been lauded for its commitment to using music as a means of promoting social change and cultural exchange. On their behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a donation to Guitars not Guns, a nonprofit organization that provides guitars and lessons to foster children and at-risk youth as a way to steer them away from violence. The funds donated by Newport Festivals Foundation on behalf of Jupiter & Okwess will be used to purchase guitars, straps, tuners, gig-bags, and instruction books.

Jonathan Richman, an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist known for his minimalist, acoustic sound and quirky, often humorous lyrics, will perform on Sunday, July 30. Richman’s donation will support the festival’s music education programs.

Billy Strings, an American bluegrass guitarist and singer, has also been announced as a performer and will perform on Sunday, July 30. On his behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to the Appalachian Artisan Center’s Culture of Recovery program, which teaches people suffering from substance abuse disorders to build high-quality stringed musical instruments.

New Zealand indie-pop band The Beths is also set to perform at the festival on Friday, July 28, and on their behalf, Newport Festivals Foundation has made a grant to Die Jim Crow Records, a non-profit record label dedicated to releasing the music of formerly and currently incarcerated musicians.

CAAMP, the Ohio-based folk-indie band, kicked off the festival’s lineup and will perform on Friday, July 28. The band has previously played at the festival and is passionate about supporting music education programs. This year, they have generously agreed to match Newport Folk’s grant to support the Harmony Project, a music education program in Columbus, OH.

Goose to perform at the 2023 Newport Folk Festival

For their Artist Give, Goose asked Newport Festivals Foundation to provide a grant to TeachRock, which uses music to make history, science, math, language arts and other subject areas exciting and relevant to young people.


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Ryan Belmore

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  He has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the boards of Fort Adams Trust, Lucy's Hearth, and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

In 2020, he was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, he spent 39 years living in Rhode Island before recently moving to Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two rescue dogs. He still considers Rhode Island home, and visits at least once a month.