Philadelphia area singer-songwriter Danie Ocean has a rare condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa, causing her to be legally blind by the age of 24. Now 36, she uses her talent and platform to spread her message that anyone can use their gifts to overcome life’s obstacles. Trained as a clinical therapist, she consistently strives to find the connection between art and healing. This has allowed Ocean to share a deep emotional connection with her listeners.
“As someone who is visually disabled, I know that everyone is going through something. My music is my healing place; my hope is that others find the same healing in it,” she said.
Ocean and her band will be returning to the stage at Winding Way Record’s Music in the Park alongside other special guests. This outdoor concert will be held at Clem Macrone Park in Bryn Mawr Aug. 14 at 5pm. Reserve your free tickets at windingwayrecords.com.
Ocean captivates listeners with a “Nu Soul” sound; combining elements of R&B, jazz, soul, and pop into one unique and eclectic mix. She is best known for her powerhouse vocals on her originals that grab your attention, and her diverse catalog of creative covers (Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Jill Scott, Paramore, Bill Withers) which span the ‘70s to present.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2018, Ocean was named amongst the Top 40 African American Millennials Who are Making a Difference in Pennsylvania by Gov. Wolf.
During the pandemic, Ocean didn’t stop working. Instead, she teamed with industry legend and Grammy Award-winning producer Vidal Davis, who has worked with Kanye West, Justin Beiber, Usher, Chris Brown, Jill Scott, Jamie Foxx, Musiq Soulchild, and others, to produce an LP entitled “Love Won’t Let Me Fail.” She recorded and distributed the LP herself.
PW recently caught up with Ocean to talk about her career and the upcoming show.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you become interested in music? Who were some of your early influences?
As long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with music. My parents collected albums like some people collect books, so instead of shelves of books in my house we had bookcases of albums, and I was always reaching for something new.
I am deeply influenced by classic R&B, jazz, singer-songwriter/folk, and pop music. I grew up with MTV and Napster. They both introduced me to music that I might have not been introduced to. I’m really grateful for that because I think it’s made me a well-rounded musician using varying styles in my music. Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, and India Arie are probably some of the most influential to my heart space.
You use your talent and platform to spread your message that anyone can use their gifts to overcome life’s obstacles. Talk a little about how being visually disabled influences your music.
It’s not easy being a visually divergent musician. Life can disable you if you let it. When I get ready for a gig, I create a scene or a vibe in my head that I’m going for and I execute. In that space I am the creator, author, and hero of all my dreams. When I am in the space or creating, collaborating, or performing I get to reclaim my power back from all things that feel too hard to manage. I’m so thankful that I’ve developed enough courage and resilience to keep practicing what I love so much.
You kept working during the pandemic, teaming with Vidal Davis on “Love Won’t Let Me Fail.” Did you encounter any production challenges?
I worked with Vidal Davis and the Danie Ocean Band in 2018 for the album “Love Won’t Let Me Fail.” It was grounding to work with a Grammy Award-winning producer. I felt like he saw me and got my vision and who I was an artist. I’m really grateful for that experience.
Right before the pandemic hit, the band and I were working on a new album and then everything shut down. I came out with two solo albums, a self-titled album “Danie Ocean” and the album “The Awakening” which are both on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play and Tidal. Those albums are incredibly special to me because I play all the instrumentation on the albums as well as doing all the production. It was a real creative and skill stretch for me, but because the pandemic afforded me so much time, I was up for the challenge. I am really proud of myself and the vulnerability I was able to have in that album because I was going through a lot of deep grieving.
What’s ahead for you in the coming months?
The Danie Ocean Band has a gig on Saturday, Aug. 14 at 5pm (Clem Macrone Park, Radnor), and we are working on a new band album that will include some tunes we have been performing for the past two years. For some of our fans, this will be a long awaited reunion. I am also working on a new solo album called “Love Monk.” My hope is both of these albums will be out by the end of this year. For more details and updates, you can visit my website: danieocean.com.