A business owner, live-show performer and recording artist, Danielle Sinclair has been apart of Buffalo’s live-show circuit for the last 10 years and in the last 3 years have reasserted herself into the rising Hip-Hop/ R&B music scene. Releasing her own projects, Ms.Jackson in 2018, and follow-up Karma in late 2020, Sinclair continues to strengthen both her personal and sonic narrative through her music – a promising move for a rising, influential talent.
Known for her sultry, vulnerable ballads, the emerging songstress most recent single comes at an interesting time. Dropped on her birthday last month, “Wham Bam” shows a playful, energetic side to Sinclair that she’s begun to uncover. Between her new music, visible enthusiasm and continuous propragation for a blooming R&B community, Danielle Sinclair is one to watch.
“I’ve been singing my entire life…I started performing live at about age 20, so I feel like I got a late start; but I always sang in church, sang in school choirs and kid choirs as a child,” explained Sinclair.
Coming from a musical family, the singer’s early life revolved around the arts. Attending Performing Arts High School for dance, whilst also participating in solos for talent shows, Sinclair knew early she wanted to pursue music. Releasing her debut project, Welcome To My World in 2010, the singer continued to make music and perform, but took a long hiatus before dropping Ms. Jackson.
“For that time period I rode out my first project as long as I could, but for me, with my creative process, I have to have some kind of inspiration because I write in blocks,” Sinclair mentioned.
During her 7-year break from releasing music, Sinclair continued to write and record music while also performing with bands. Working with 2 separate bands, one older called Take Flight, and a younger group of musicians called The Kings, the singer was the front woman for both while running her own food catering business.
Throughout this time the singer also collaborated with rapper, L. Biz. Naturally establishing a co-writing relationship for Welcome To My World, the two worked together through every part of Sinclair’s music making process during her hiatus. With both of them having a natural knack for songwriting, L-Biz plays an integral part in Sinclair’s sound as a producer, writer and artist himself.
“Sometimes he’ll have an idea,” explained Sinclair. “And I’ll come up with the first verse of the song, and he’ll write the 2nd verse of the song. Sometimes he’ll write the hook, sometimes I’ll write the pre-chorus, so it’s kinda like a collaborative effort always when we get together and write things.”
Not only making music, but studying it, Sinclair’s process for music discovery especially in the R&B realm is something she takes seriously. With an established source for music and songwriting from L-Biz as well as fellow producer Mic XL, the singer stays up to date in the R&B world.
“I really am such a fan of R&B just from the origin of it. I’m talking going back to the 60’s and 70’s…Music is an experience for me. When I’m listening to a song I have to feel it. It has to go through me so I pull from the greats. I’m listening to people like Natalie Cole. I’m pulling from Brandy because me and her have a similar tone; you know things like that. I like to listen to music that is gonna be aesthetically pleasing to my ear. And I want that to translate when I make music and other people hear my music,” Sinclair explained.
With loads of recorded music in the vault, Sinclair dropped 4-track EP Ms. Jackson in June of 2018. The project, which broke her 7-year hiatus, re-introduced Danielle Sinclair as an artist embracing the intense, ominous, trap-flavored styles of modern R&B while still paying homage to her roots. The first track on the project is an ode to Janet Jackson – including references from many of the pop diva’s singles throughout the years.
Creating her own sound and presence with Ms. Jackson, the singer assembled a group of musicians to form a band and perform her new music . Connecting with pianist and composer Lamont J Musiq at her church, who reached out to bass player Alex OvertonTrueheart and drummer Jeremiah “Chubbz” Brooks Jr., Sinclair and the group were thrusted into their first show at Mike’s Lounge in early 2019 and ever since, have been playing shows together.
“If we’re missing one piece of the group it’s off,” the singer explained. “I don’t know what kind of divine thing that was, but with the 4 of us together we just blend very well. We have great chemistry on and off stage.”
Calling themselves Ascension, the band performed original music and R&B covers across the city up until early 2020, when the Covid Pandemic started and quarantine was in full practice, but that didn’t stop Sinclair from striving for more.
In 2016, Danielle Sinclair and her sisters, Lauren Jackson and Brianna Lannie were intent on opening their own hair store. Creating the logo, name and business license all in that year, the sisters idea didn’t come to fruition until late 2019.
“9 months before we opened, my sister was just like ‘We’re about to do this.’ And I’m just like, ‘Are you serious?’ You know? Because we’re all in different places in our lives and stuff, but nobody was really like satisfied,” Sinclair explained.
With her sisters shifting away from their careers and working together to open The Hair Hive, the sisters struggled to receive financial assistance as aspiring first-time business owners, but eventually were able to open their doors as the first Black-owned hair store in Buffalo, NY on March 7th, 2020.
“We happened upon a place called Wedi Buffalo and they give out loans to small businesses and they’re like our family. They took a chance on us. They helped us along with family members that believed in us. We were able to secure the funding to open up in time…It just goes to show that when you really want to do something, there’s nothing that’s gonna stop you. I always feel that way about everything that I do in life,” Sinclair said enthusiastically.
Just surpassing a year in business, The Hair Hive continues to grow while the singer records and drops music. Releasing 5-track EP, Karma in October of 2020, Sinclair’s brand of R&B showed a new side of itself on the project. With a slightly more adventurous production and intense lyrics about toxic relationships and irreversible heartbreak, the project reflects challenging moments in the singer’s personal life.
“That was just a collection of very – I call dramatic songs,” mentioned Sinclair. “…there were certain times I would go to the studio and I was like so distraught. You need to be healthy to sing and to record so when you are stressed it comes out in your voice. And a lot of those songs that we did for Karma, we recorded them a lot. And that’s another thing people don’t understand about R&B is that R&B can take a long time to record. R&B is very expensive to produce.”
With 2 solid projects under her belt, Danielle Sinclair’s rising influence among Buffalo’s growing music community is making an impact on aspiring R&B acts that are just starting out. More vocal and present on social media particularly about the need for support of local R&B music, the singer is a force that continues to build a path of success in every facet of her life – A jack of all trades and shero that is leading the way.
With the recent release of her single “Wham Bam,” Sinclair is set to create a music video for the track and set to drop a string of singles this year.
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