I must say, this lady was an absolute pleasure to interview! She was refreshingly open and honest, and gave me so much information that it was difficult to decide what to leave out. She has been a good friend to the Grimnien team for many years, and is fun as well as exceptionally talented.
Denise is a singer/songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When she was eighteen, she was hired to work at a folk club called The Main Point. It was there that the lucky lady watched performances by Tom Rush, Townes Van Zandt, Jackson Browne, Chris Smither, JD Souther and more. Denise says:
“I knew that they were my mother ship. They taught me that while listening to a well written song, you can be heard and seen, and connected in a genuine and precious way. I wanted to do that! Now, I do…”
I should add that she does it well. Listen to Denise and decide for yourself:
On her website Denise describes an early experience that introduced her to music:
“When I was fourteen, I was forced to go to summer camp. I hated it more than eating bugs! I didn’t like sports or color war. I hated keeping to a detailed schedule of activities. I didn’t like changing into a bathing suit in front of a bunch of girls while keeping an eye on the wasps’ nest, but summer camp was an experience that changed my life. The older, counselor-girls, taught me to love songs. They introduced me to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and myself.”
Her early experiences taught her the power songs had to touch and transform hearts.
First album ‘Here Right Now’
She told me that she suffers from bouts of anxiety:
“I think of myself as an extroverted introvert. I also flirt with depression now and then, but struggled more with that in my younger years. It feels past tense for now. I have often found myself being a leader in my life, but I am most comfortable with people one on one, or in small groups”
I was quite surprised at that revelation and asked Denise if it affects her when performing to large audiences, she replied:
“I find performing to be an intimate experience, and although there are many people in the room, I feel like I am connecting heart to heart.”
She has performed to large audiences, even opening up for Steve Forbert two consecutive years at the Bryn Mawr Twilight Concert Series.
So what have been her favourite moments?
“The best moments are when I know my songs have deeply touched someone. I know what that feels like as a fan, and to think that my songs touch other people that way is an honor and a privilege.
I have a feeling that July 23rd will be a favorite moment. I am opening for John Gorka, and I have been a fan for decades. When I was booked, I jumped up and down like a kid.”
Denise speaks and writes from the heart. Her lyrics often reflect her positive outlook on life as demonstrated in the first song I heard her perform, “I Believe”:
I asked Denise when she first started writing:
“I have always been writing, but when I was younger, I was too hard on myself. I compared my first songs with the songs of my heroes, like Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, and decided that I was a bad songwriter.
The need to write wouldn’t leave me alone. I felt compelled to do it, and was always writing in journals. I was a lonely kid, and writing was a way to express my feelings.
When I turned thirty, I gave myself a choice about songwriting. I told myself that I either had to shut up about it, or do it. I did it! That was when I wrote most of my first album.
Writing is my favorite thing to do, but it has been a wrestling match. I suffered from long bouts of writer’s block. That is why there is so much time between my two albums. I am better at navigating that now. I have learned to show up and write, and to not wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes when my hand is moving. It is magical and hard work.”
Second album: ‘bright side up’
“I love the feel of words flowing, rhymes forming, and stories unfolding.”
Denise tells me that she’s also passionate about cooking:
“Cooking is reliable when other creative endeavors are illusive. Lyrics can be moody. Characters in stories sometimes turn their backs. There are days when I struggle to focus, but every day, I find my spark again on the cutting board.”
Apart from writing and performing songs, Denise writes flash-fiction and is writing a book. She also facilitates a creative writing workshop for anyone who wants to unearth their stories, and as if that isn’t enough she writes custom songs for people:
“I write songs for other people. I sing what is in their hearts, and I tell their stories. It is my honor and privilege.”
If you would like Denise to write a song for you, or to find out more about what she is doing, visit her website and join her mailing list here: denisemosermusic.com. I highly recommend her website, it is packed full of interesting information.