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Joann Denny / Bio

Please help me make Bobby go VIRAL on youtube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bDShjuljco
My Heroes have Always been Songwriters
Written by Joann Denny for the Southwest Virginia Songwriter's Association, June 2006 newsletter:

I have a title. I’m reaching for a little inspiration. I think I know where I’m going with this title, but over the past year my creativity has been diluted with Popsicle sticks and cotton, sticky fingers on scissors, construction paper and crayons. When I’m with my children, there is not a thought in my head that they don’t put there; a typical dilemma for a 44 year old stay-at-home Mom. They do inspire me in many ways, but not always in ways that are fulfilling to my musical passions. My 26 year career as a computer professional was equally uninspiring to my music, so I can’t pin this creative slump entirely on my children. Am I responsible for this? Is there no one else I can blame?

So I struggle to be inspired and inspiring and realize that I’m just so out of practice. It wasn’t always like this. Like most writers, I’ve had peaks and valleys in my writing and usually it takes a good jolt of drama in my life to find something to write about. When you’re in this place, do you ever try to think back to what inspired you when you were a kid? Can you recall the first time you were profoundly inspired by the lyrics of a song? There has never been a time in my life when I was not moved in one way or another by songwriters, even as a young child. I was in awe, because it seemed like there was never an experience that someone had not already written about. I recollect the heartrending drama that took place inside my head every time I heard “the song” that so accurately defined that particular moment in my life. I am still moved in that way by certain songs and even by some of my own. And because that memory is so poignant, my personal writing has a tendency to be very confessional at times.

When I adopted my 2nd child (age two) and quit my job last year, I experienced more of a sense of loss than I cared to admit. Wanting desperately to record the ten songs that I had written, I found I had less time for my music than ever before. My attempts at writing are often foiled by the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider and the theme song for Blues Clues. But I can’t resist those little faces, with their hands held high to play those familiar song-games. What has happened to me?! I sometimes find myself dwelling on my age a little too much in regard to what I have and have not accomplished in my creative life. For a short time last year my frustration hit an all time high and I was miserable. The sweet whisper of “good morning grumpy” was coming too easily and frequently from my husband’s lips; endured with dignity because I needed his paycheck. Then I read an article about a 50 year old songwriter/mom who had just released her 2nd CD…only her 2nd?! Her first was released in the mid 1990’s, so this had been a long time coming for her. I had never heard of her before and as I read on in disbelief I realized that even at the top, real life happens and it doesn’t stop for the music. The songwriter’s name is Patti Scialfa, and her 23rd Street Lullaby CD was released in June, 2004. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it didn’t for me, she is also known as Mrs. Bruce Springsteen. Being a Springsteen fan, I was riveted by the article and felt such a strong affinity to her story, that she became my most recent songwriter hero.

A talented singer/songwriter and musician, in her own right, this lady gladly put it all on the backburner for “the Boss”. At first I said to myself, “big deal, what hot-blooded American woman wouldn’t”? But all kidding aside, here was a real talent, educated in the best schools. She had money, resources, her own connections and a famous songwriter husband, and she couldn’t do it all…no, she wouldn’t do it all. Her travels with Bruce as background singer with the “E Street Band” became less and less after their children were born. She sadly but resolutely put her own recording plans on the shelf. Couldn’t she have just hired a nanny? I thought about her frustration and I wondered how often Bruce called her grumpy. She certainly had a lot more options than I do, but she decided it was more important to stay home and raise the kids. In the article she talks about the long process of planning her new release. She said she would walk around the house singing all the time and her children would scream at her to, “STOP SINGING MOM!” Eventually, after a lot of hard work and juggling she made her dream come true, and she did it while helping to make her children’s dreams come true too. That’s my kind of hero.

After reading about Patti and listening to her music, which is as inspiring as her story, I began to understand that my life is happening right now. It’s too easy to blame life’s “little interruptions” for my lack of time and creativity. The bottom line is I’m doing exactly what I want and need to do for myself and my family. Suddenly, I lost the muse blues and I stopped allowing myself to dwell on my creative struggle. Rather than focusing on the things that are not done, I look forward to the things I will do. Through the years, songwriters and their music have saved me thousands of dollars in therapy. There has always been a songwriter hero behind every stage in my life, giving me the strength and wisdom to lighten up and move on, usually after a good long cry. With their help, I’ve grown up enough to realize that the music of life takes on many shapes. But if I had one selfish wish, perhaps a childish dream, just for me, it would be to write music and play the guitar like Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. You laugh, but admit it; you have a secret wish like that too.

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Joann Denny
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Joann Denny
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Singer Songwriter / Christian

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Madison, NC