Homegrown Support for Ray of Hope

By Beacon Staff

As with most aspects of life, time and experience can add richness and depth to an artist’s craft. Singer-songwriter Danielle Oliver understands this lesson after years on the road and in Los Angeles working on her music career.

Now, the Whitefish native is back home while continuing to write new music. And as she did with her 2011 EP, “Snow for Sun,” Oliver has chosen to release her latest work in her hometown.

Oliver will premiere the music video for her song “Advice” at Crush in Whitefish on May 18. She will perform, along with local favorite Tim Torgerson.

All of the proceeds from the video release party will go toward A Ray of Hope, a local nonprofit that helps the valley’s homeless population and those in need.

“I’ve known the founders since childhood,” Oliver said in an interview last week. “And they are building a new women and children’s shelter.”

“Advice,” the song featured in her first music video, is a track off the EP she released while in Whitefish in 2011. She’s since moved on to making new music, Oliver said, but it was always her goal to shoot a music video for this song.

“I’ve had that vision for that video for a really long time,” she said. “The idea kept burning.”

The video, shot by a South African director, will fulfill that dream, she said, and she’s particularly proud of this piece of work.

After Oliver released her EP in Whitefish in 2011, she went out on a regional tour promoting the album. The tour went well, she said, and she enjoyed playing on new stages and for different crowds.

Such experience allowed her to work out the tweaks on her songs, she said; for instance, those songs that might sound good in the recording booth might need some changes for a live audience to really appreciate them.

She also spent time touring in Europe, primarily in Austria, where the music culture is different than in the United States. The audiences in Austria were very quiet and attentive, she said, with less talking and drinking during the shows. The audience was also very interested in the lyrics and meanings behind them, she said, which gave her the opportunity to explore her songs even further.

Her touring experience helped her understand what aspects of her music are the most popular with the most amount of people, which is integral for an artist when it comes to figuring out they want to market their work.

But that can also be a sticky situation when it comes to true expression, she said.

“A big part of it is also not taking too seriously what everyone’s opinion is,” Oliver said.

The biggest lesson she learned was that nothing can replace a true connection between a songwriter and a listener.

“I could sit and write songs all day about something personal that’s happened to me and it might not resonate with someone else,” she said. “The audience has to be able to relate.”

Once the European tour was complete, Oliver came back to Northwest Montana, where she has continued to write and sing. Once the music video is premiered, she will get back to working on releasing new music at the end of the summer.

“I’m working on a single, and I do have quite a bit of material to choose from,” she said.

As she continues to grow as a musician, Oliver said being back in Montana has proven to be a boon for her creativity. She spent eight years in LA, with the fast-paced lifestyle that was exciting but also spared little time for her music.

Since moving back here, she’s been able to focus more intently and produce more than she could have in California.

“I think I’ve had a lot more time in general to focus on the writing element,” Oliver said. “It’s been nice to be home and just be out of the city.”

Danielle Oliver will perform and premiere her music video at Crush in Whitefish on May 18 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.danielleoliver.com. For more information on A Ray of Hope, visit www.arayofhopemontana.com.