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Interviews: Danielle Gasparro

photo of Danielle Gasparro copyright Shawn BoyleDanielle Gasparro: Interview
June 2010
By: Lauren Jonik

When the page turns unexpectedly in life and a new chapter begins, what is most essential rises to the top. When the recession caused performing songwriter Danielle Gasparro to lose her job and made finding other steady employment not only difficult, but impossible, she embraced it as an opportunity. "I had been working for almost four years for an education-based nonprofit and they had to let people go," she begins. "I kept looking for other jobs, but it got to the point where I thought I might have to leave the city in order to survive and lower my overhead." But, after a self-described period of despair, Gasparro, who released the album Birdsong in 2008, re- evaluated her options and temporarily relocated in the south to stay with family. "I began to think of it as an opportunity at a certain point." Seizing the chance to approach her career in music differently, Gasparro has embraced an emerging trend for bringing music directly to audiences: house concerts. House concerts are indeed just that-performances in private residences. A host invites family and friends to listen to live music in the setting of their home or other suitable non-public space. It allows for a unique experience for guests and for performers, it provides a way to bring their music more intimately to new audiences. The host requests a suggested artist donation so that the performer is being compensated. "I have taken on a whole new perspective as someone who wants to tour and get her music out there."

Gasparro embarked on her first solo tour of the Northeast in the Autumn of 2009 and was surprised by the by the experience itself-and the results. "It was unreal. I performed twelve concerts for audiences who came out in droves in states that I had never been to, who sat still, listened to my music and seemingly connected very much with it," she enthuses. But Gasparro's travels also offered her an unexpected gift: the peace of mind that there is a place for her music in the world. "I had so many insecurities floating around my head on a daily basis living in New York City. It got the best of my doubts and confusions about what I was doing and so I wondered if there really was an audience for me in the world. By taking myself to Lincoln, Nebraska and having an incredible experience, I feel like I have been learning that there is and for me, that has been the most deeply fulfilling thing about signing on for this independent artistry."

The road has not been without obstacles, literally and figuratively. As a performer traveling alone, Gasparro relies only on herself practically and spiritually. "This was the first time that I was completely self-sufficient as an artist-getting out on the road, packing up the car, unloading it by myself at one in the morning because I couldn't leave everything in it and getting up the next morning to drive again. I would rather have some help, but I really love the self-sufficiency of it and being able to meet new people in places that I have never been to. I knew I would love touring, but not to the depth of it." The challenges pale in comparison to the rewards of living a life of her own design. "The obstacle is not knowing where the money is going to come from, but I am willing to accept that. I basically create a simple life." But, Gasparro jokes that there is one little thing that she does wish she knew prior to setting out on the road. "I wish I knew that does not always get it right. And I wished that in particular in the middle of a corn field in Kansas when I was touring. I've got two words for you: Google maps."

Gasparro's journey renewed her faith in herself and in the unknown. "I have lived through the "leap" and gone to the other side. If you move towards what it is you really want at the sacrifice of something you think you need, you will be provided for. The world provides you with opportunities and people and experiences and places that push you to take the reins even more." Currently plotting another house concert tour for the Fall of 2010, Gasparro looks forward to bringing her unique brand of piano-based pop and jazz to more unfamiliar territory and to seeing what life has in store for her along the way. "I have garnered a new sense of faith in those stars up above to go with what life hands you, even if it is seems like the craziest thing in the world. I learned that if you know what you want to do, align your life so that you can have the least amount of resistance to do that. And for me, it ended up being soul nourishing. Your zip code doesn't define your soul's code."

Photo by Shawn Boyle