These days, Danielle Cosby breathes a little easier.
The Nashville, Tennessee indie pop singer-songwriter slowly exhales painful emotions and experiences from the past on her latest curative single, “Growing.”
“This song is about taking a moment to reflect on and accept the journey that I traveled to get to where I am today. This song also serves as an apology to those I was forced to leave behind, or anyone I may have hurt while I was hurting,” said Cosby, who hails from Grand Rapids.
“I’ve had to forgive myself for a lot of things and let go of resentments that kept me tied to my past. ‘Growing’ is my reminder to not look back, but to press on with the full understanding that I can do hard things. It gives me a sense of empowerment and hope for the future.”
Filled with cathartic piano and hopeful bass, “Growing” beautifully immerses listeners in newfound relief and closure. As the third release in Cosby’s “Songstress” series, it’s the ideal anthem for moving forward and rediscovering your sense of self.
Cosby sings, “Gotta cry every once in a while/Write it down, sing a song, walk a mile/In my worn out shoes, from the years I spent with you.”
“‘Growing’ is actually my oldest ‘baby’ in the series. I started writing this song probably in late 2019/early 2020 before COVID and before I moved. I think it started as a hope of what the future could feel like. Kind of a ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ scenario,” said Cosby, who relocated to Nashville in July 2020.
“It sat with me, always playing in the back of my mind, but never really felt authentic and ‘true’ until I moved. Clarity is a powerful thing. Once my healing journey and my feelings kind of ‘caught up’ to the song, I was able to finish writing it, and it feels like one of my most prized possessions now.”
To realize her “Growing” vision, Cosby collaborated remotely with Los Angeles producer (and Grand Haven native) Kevin DePree and recorded the piano at Nashville’s East Iris Studios. Playing on a beautiful Bosendorfer Grand provided Cosby with additional inspiration for the track.
“It’s been such a positive and fulfilling experience working with (Kevin). I think this is my most vulnerable series of music to date, so working with someone I really trust as both a producer and a person was really important to me,” Cosby said.
“(Recording on the Bosendorfer Grand) was pretty much an out-of-body experience. It really boosted my confidence in my piano skills and felt like a gift I was granting myself. I felt really proud of myself.”
Bottle Up You and Better People
Cosby continues to find growth and renewal on the second emotionally charged “Songstress” single, “Bottle Up You,” as gleaming strings, introspective piano, tranquil electric guitar, soft acoustic guitar, thumping bass and pounding drums open the floodgates for a long-awaited release.
She sings, “I cracked the bottle open/Just enough to write this song/As well as I can fake it I’ll admit/I still don’t feel strong.”
“Listening back to that song now, I can see how much I’ve grown since I wrote that song, and that’s been a pretty cool thing. It makes it more tangible. I can track back my growth,” Cosby said.
“It’s kind of in the same realm as the Detour album, where I’ve grown so much that it feels like a different lifetime ago in such a short amount of time. Since it hasn’t been that long, I can still tap into how I felt.”
Cosby tapped into those deep “Bottle Up You” emotions while working with Joe Ayoub (bass, guitar), Elizabeth Baba (violin, viola, string arrangements) and producer DePree (drums, mixing, mastering) on the track.
“I can’t even imagine that song without both of them. I barely had to give them any direction at all. This is also greatly in part with Kevin, too, and what he brings to the table and how he kind of melds us all together,” Cosby said.
“When Kevin and I were talking through the vibe and direction of this song and where we wanted the production to go, we (knew we) wanted it to be anthematic and cinematic. Everyone just totally nailed that on the head.”
Pensive piano, luminous synth, bold bass and echoing percussion instill courage and strength in Cosby as she sings,” No, it wasn’t easy/Telling you I wanted to be free/I knew I had to walk away/I wish you could have loved me/In any other way/Or any other day I would have said maybe/Maybe.”
“It’s really an ode to having a full understanding of both sides of any conflict or any relationship. It’s taking responsibility for your part of it and really realizing that it takes two,” said Cosby about her first “Songstress” single.
“It’s also just being able to process some hurtful things and really grow from it and hope that the other person is growing from it as well. And it’s wishing nothing but the best for these people that you have loved.”
For “Better People,” Cosby once again collaborated with producer DePree to add rich electronic elements and soundscapes to the insightful track.
“From the beginning, he was the one I wanted to work on these projects with. I knew the direction I wanted this music to take … so it would have more of a synth, electronic vibe to it,” she said. “I knew he was going to be able to execute that, and he’s good at reading my mind and then doing it even better.”
A Grand Rapids native, Cosby started her musical journey while growing up in a musical family. She learned piano as a child and sang in the church where her father served as a worship pastor.
“It was inevitable for me. The only other thing that I ever wanted to be was a famous basketball player, which was not going to work out for me,” Cosby said with a laugh. “So I guess I settled with music … it was woven into every part of my life.”
As a teen, Cosby joined the high school choir and did musical theater before directing the Circle Theatre’s summer concert series. She also developed a deep appreciation for jazz, Motown, funk and pop, including The Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, and Sara Bareilles.
“My first professional gigs were through the Circle Theatre concert series. My voice teacher groomed me to take her place at the Circle Theatre at a young age, so she was pulling me in the by the time I was a sophomore and junior in high school,” Cosby said.
“Hip Pocket is like an Earth, Wind & Fire tower of power … with a big horn section that’s super funk. Their previous lead singer was in the band for 17 years, and when she was ready to retire, I got the call to audition,” she said.
“In the middle of my time with them, I started performing with the Bluewater Kings Band all over the Midwest. Then, I started managing and producing for that band.”
After performing with several bands, Cosby started focusing on her own music and released her full-length debut album, Detour, in 2019. The soulful release chronicles the personal experiences, reflections and relationships of her early 20s.
“I was maybe 25 or 26 when it was released, and that was a very uncertain time of my life. I kind of call it my quarter-life crisis. I was questioning everything and wondered what the heck I was doing,” she said. “I was in a long-term relationship that went through a lot of turmoil at that time, so there was just a lot of material to write about.”
A year later, Cosby relocated to Nashville and started refining the three singles for her “Songstress” series, which acknowledge and close a tough chapter of her personal life.
“It felt like the next natural place for me to be. I kind of felt like I had climbed the ladder in Michigan as far as I could go, and I was ready for a fresh environment and some new challenges. And personally, I was ready to rid myself of my past and move into my future,” she said.
With her eye on the future, Cosby is writing new material and wants to record stripped-down live performance videos for her “Songstress” series.
“I’ve recently just gotten my new ‘spark’ of creativity and have been compiling a list of songs/ideas for an album. This ‘Songstress’ series was something that felt really powerful and essential to my own healing, but it was pretty heavy,” she said.
“Now, I’m ready for something lighter and more fun. I have a few friends in town I’d like to collaborate/write with, and I’m looking forward to seeing what can come to fruition. It feels really good to be back in this creative headspace, and the music that’s coming out of it so far is really exciting.”