The magnetic harp and vocal duo that is finding mainstream success with its unique sound

Addi & Jacq burst onto the New York scene in 2015 by winning the Battle of the Boroughs—a huge competition open to all genres of music. Singer Addi McDaniel and harpist Jacqui Kerrod have since proven their staying power and dazzled audiences by pushing boundaries with their eclectic and heartfelt music, which they compose themselves. They are redefining the singer/songwriter model, elevating the harp to be on equal footing with the vocals in the ensemble. Their songs and the incredible sounds that Jacq is able to get from the harp by using all sorts of effects and pedals have captivated harpists and non-harpists alike. I caught up with the duo in New York City, in the midst of a busy spring performing season, to find out how they create their music and what drives their originality and spirit as a duo.

Harp Column: For our readers who haven’t heard you perform or aren’t familiar with your music, how would you two describe Addi & Jacq’s music?

JACQ: Our music is intimate and expansive all at once. We love to tell stories that are deeply human, personal, and quirky and draw our audience in with the beauty of a harp and a voice. What’s different is that we strive to create this larger-than-life quality to the sound—a sound that is big and enveloping by taking this gorgeous, delicate yet powerful instrument and blending it with Addi’s voice to experience stories of life, love, and what makes us human. What we frequently hear from audiences is that it’s heartfelt, warm, fun, quirky, smart, intimate, and has a fresh sound.

ADDI: People often say the music is refreshing and innovative. We had to get creative with ways that we make sound because it’s just the two of us. Working within that limitation, a diverse range of sounds and styles emerged—it’s contributed to a pretty eclectic mix of things!

JACQ: There’s a lot of variety. I think that’s why we struggle with these types of questions (how to label or categorize our group) because we go in a lot of different directions. And you can’t really put us into a box. But I think that’s what is exciting for us, because we get to do things on the acoustic harp that are really intimate and then move on to the electric harp and fill the space with sound. In terms of being a singer/songwriter duo, we’ve tried to take that to the next level. It’s not modeled after the traditional singer/songwriter duo where the harp is mostly treated as an accompaniment. It’s really two equal voices, and we try to allow both of our instruments the space to sing and be powerful without cluttering the texture. People have this preconceived notion that it’s going to be vocals up front with a little ditty on the harp in the background. That’s not what this is.

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