Sophie Daniels Recent Articles

On The Power of Song

From the blog at https://songwritingstudies.com/on-the-power-of-song/

Parliment

Yesterday, for the second time, I got the opportunity to play my original song at The Houses of Parliament. This is why and what happened …

My daughter, Liberty, died in 2011 and I wrote a song for her soon afterwards to express, (or perhaps to make sense of), what to do with the only thing I had left of her – A limitless amount of love. The song is called ‘I Can Love You From Here’ and I had played it at various informal events, but it had not really had any kind of platform for people to hear it outside my friendship group or my students.

This changed last October, when I was invited to sing it for a ceremony to mark Baby Loss Awarness week at The Chapel underneath The Houses of Parliament at Westminster. This came about because my husband has been involved in charity work for Tommy’s who are working to save babies lives. He then became a member of an ‘All Party Parliamentary Group’ for Baby Loss Awareness which is a committee formed from MPs, health professionals and a great many children’s and baby charities. The response I had from that performance convinced me to record the song and it will be released for charity this coming October.

So, on Tuesday evening, I found myself attending an APPG to play them the finished record. This meeting took place in a large committee room lined with enormous paintings at The Houses Of Parliament. It wasn’t easy to get there! I queued through the airport security system to get in and argued and begged that they let me bring in my speaker which they planned to confiscate. Eventually, I made my way through a labyrinth of ancient halls and corridors just in time to enter through an enormous door (phew! – the one for the public – there is a separate one for MPs), and join the biggest committee meeting table I’ve ever seen.

Sophie DanielsBetween the various MPs and many high-profile charities present, it was pretty intimidating! We sat through a pretty meaty agenda covering things like; changes in the law which will affect whether or not coroners can investigate stillborn babies deaths with or without parents’ consent, a huge new NHS research study which has outcomes meaning maternity wards will change the way they operate so that sick babies in neonatal wards can always remain with their mothers, (it impacts their ability to survive), and approving a case that had come to one MPs office, to allow a police authority to exploit a loophole in the law in order to prosecute a driver who had killed an unborn baby under the ‘death by dangerous driving’ legislation for the first time in the UK.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I was feeling a little intimidated about being on the agenda to play a simple song.

When it was my turn, (last on the agenda), I grabbed my laptop and speaker and took my seat at the head of the table next to Antoniette Sandbach MP (co-chair, very impressive woman and bereaved mother), and I gave a brief presentation and played the song. At line one of chorus one, Antoinette began to cry and was openly sobbing by the end of the chorus so, of course, I took her hand. By chorus two, many in the room were in tears. At the end of the song the entire energy in the room had changed. We all marvelled at the power of song.

I gave the rest of my presentation and received enthusiastic support from everyone there. All the charities are keen to actively help to promote the record and have access to it to support parents, families, funerals, ceremonies and the grief process. With a background in the record business and a career in teaching songwriting, I’ve sat at a wide variety of tables and listened to a wide variety of songs with a myriad of different reactions and feedback expressed. But this was something else entirely … Most of the room had a connection with baby loss of child bereavement but the simple human side of our experiences had not really been expressed or shared fully until we listened to the song together.

I got the feedback that I needed – the record works as well as the song sung live.

I got what I went for – the full support of the MPs and charities present.

But I got something even more valuable which was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had of sharing a song.

The song ‘I Can Love You From Here’ will be released October 2019 as part of an EP project with the same name and under the artist name ‘Liberty’s Mother’.

ICMP’s Sophie Daniels performs at Houses of Parliament

From the blog at https://www.icmp.ac.uk/

Sophie Daniels

ICMP’s Sophie Daniels performed at Houses of Parliament for Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The service, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Baby Loss, saw our MA Songwriting Programme Leader perform an original song, ‘I Can Love You From Here’, written for her daughter Liberty who sadly passed away in January 2011.

The service was attended by parents and MPs who have lost children and had high profile attendees and speakers including the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom. The event was part of a campaign to break the silence around baby loss in the UK which also includes leading MPs such as Nicola Sturgeon among its supporters.

Commenting, Sophie said:

I was proud to perform at the Houses of Parliament but particularly to be able to bring a new lyrical perspective to something which hasn’t been written about before in song.

“I received some great feedback from attendees about how refreshing it was to have lyrics that were suitable to the occasion and the service itself. Pieces of art about baby loss are generally not available yet. It was a very inspiring and moving event in an extraordinary medieval chapel with some of the best natural acoustics I’ve ever heard. ”

The song is now expected to be recorded and released to raise awareness around Baby Loss Awareness Week in 2019.

ICMP tutor Luke Toms will produce the record and Yannis Iliopoulos will work with the charity on the release.

Visit babyloss-awareness.org to find out more. 

Learn from SAYS19 judge, Sophie Daniels

From the blog at https://www.songacademy.co.uk

Sophie Daniels

From childhood to university, Sophie studied classical music, literature, and musical theatre. Her adult career in music began with songwriting and performing in band projects and musicals. She pursued a dual profession from the start of her employment, combining music teaching and performing with a job at the BBC. She then progressed through roles at major record labels whilst writing and performing as a singer-songwriter.

Sophie also works as a co-writer on singer-songwriter projects in London, mainly folk, country, and pop, whilst developing her independent record label and co-writing in Nashville. During her career, she has taught at Italia Conti and ICMP (now head of songwriting at ICMP).  She has worked for The BBC, Sony Music UK and Syco. Her songwriting graduates range from Daughter and Denai Moore to Rise To Remain.

We asked Sophie some questions to help aspiring young songwriters on their songwriting journey

How old were you when you wrote your first song?  8 years old.

What was your first song about?  It was kind of political. I remember trying to create an analogy about state control and worrying whether we could be controlled by the state poisoning our toothpaste! I also wrote some love songs which were all contrived around imaginary plots with imaginary boyfriends (mainly based on George Michael).  The first one I wrote that I was pleased with was a song for a play that I also wrote with some friends. It was called ‘Moving In A Dream’.

Who inspired you to start songwriting?  Abba first, then around 7-8 years old I got into George and Ira Gershwin and sat and learned to play and sing all their songs from a piano song book.

What’s your favourite song you’ve ever written?  A song called ‘I Can Love You From Here’ which I am recording in Nashville this spring. It is written for my daughter Liberty who died in 2011 and it is part of a recording project for the All Party Parliamentary Group working in Westminster for Baby Loss Awareness. It will be released for the APPG in October 2019.

How easy did you find it to get your music heard?  I’ve worked on lots of different kinds of songs for different projects. Some are more difficult than others but it is never easy.

What’s your biggest regret as a young songwriter?  Not following my own ideas and interests with a more determined focus. Or put another way, listening to advice from A&R men. Always make the music you want to make even when you are told that it is out of fashion. Fashion comes and goes, whilst your connection with your musical identity must last you your lifetime.

What are your top tips for aspiring songwriters?   Think through your big picture motivations like – Why are you writing this song? What is it really about and what do you really want to say? Who are you talking to? If you can think through your motivations as a writer in some detail, then the smaller decisions, (like which word goes where), tend to make themselves.

What do you especially like about The Young Songwriter competition?  The passion that everyone involved in this competition shows for sharing the joy of songwriting with a younger generation.

Are you aged 8-18?  Have you written your own songs?  Then enter The Young Songwriter 2019 competition!

Exploring our Masters in Songwriting

From the blog at https://www.icmp.ac.uk/songwriting-masters-london

London’s first and only songwriting-specific postgraduate Masters programme. A highly creative and personalised journey, designed to enable students to examine, explore and focus on both practical writing and songwriting education.

Explore the art and craft of contemporary songwriting on this practice-based, industry-led programme, placing your development as a songwriter in a critical and contextual setting. Taught by a faculty that includes number one writers as well as two Mercury Prize nominees.

ICMP's Masters in Songwriting offers writers and creatives a fantastic opportunity to not only write songs but investigate why and what they write.

Postgraduate study offers writers the freedom to shape their own learning, to define, then push their boundaries. Not only do students write and learn about song, but they follow new lines of intellectual enquiry to investigate their own creativity.The spirit of self-directed study and level of intellectual and academic enquiry throughout the modules is unique to our MA Songwriting programme, as well as the calibre of guest faculty who come and lecture at ICMP.

A mixture of musicians, writers and performers

ICMP's postgraduate songwriting programme attracts a variety of students, from recent graduates through to industry professionals looking to refocus and change their identities as writers.

The programme also draws many writers who haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to their writing as they’d like to. These are often writers who have chosen to pursue completely different undergraduate study routes, but now wish to invest and focus their energy on cultivating their passion as songwriters.

Find out more on the ICMP website