Denise Lisenby

Denise Lisenby

BandRockBlues

Solo female vocalist accompanied by energetic and evocative blues, rock and gospel compositions

Biography

A new vocal talent is emerging from a small mountain town in
Northern Arizona. Like a modern Joni Mitchell, she employs many mediums to express her creativity, but it is with her graceful and powerful voice that Denise Lisenby is rediscovering the ability to move an ever growing audience who wants music with deeper roots than fashion-driven diva pop.

The oldest of five children, Lisenby was born in 1966 in Columbus, Georgia to very modest and hardworking parents. Her inclinations toward music were given a firm foundation at a very early age. "I don't remember how it came about, I was just lucky, but as far back as I can remember, until high school, I was always in choir." Encouraged by her father, who paid for voice lessons, she entered college, dropped out, then returned at 23 to complete a degree in Studio Arts at Auburn University.

While living in Montgomery, Alabama, she joined her first band "The Next," a 6-piece Top 40 band that met with some local
success. "I stuck it out for a while but we only did covers. It wasn't creative enough so I left." With her guitarist she tried
perfoming as an acoustic duo, experimenting for the first time with writing her own material. But the partnership faded and needing to make a living, she focused her efforts entirely on ceramics and
pottery.

"I was in Florida then and had a successful thing going. My art was being displayed, I was selling well at festivals and galleries, and I was teaching adults and children. I love working with kids. They don't limit themselves. Trees hang upside down in the sky, people have four arms. That fearlessness inspired me and my work. I tried anything I felt like trying and usually stuff just worked out."

In 1990, she moved to Arizona to complete a Masters degree in Art therapy at a prestigous private college. One fateful summer evening some friends invited her to sing with their rock band. "I sang Dracula Moon in the parking lot of this coffee shop and there were some songwriters in the audience who came up to me afterwards and said they wanted to make an album. So we started working together." In a matter of months, Lisenby released her first effort, an energetic and compelling 16-song album of original blues, rock, and gospel songs titled Not Just Another Diva.

Now that the fire has been stoked there seems to be no end to her creative energy. She has recently finished building a new ceramics studio and has even taken up making jewelry. But her artistic
focus has shifted. "Now that I have a taste for writing original material, I just want to do it all the time."

That passion shines brightly on Not Just Another Diva.
Comparable to Joan Osborne or Bonnie Raitt, Lisenby is, at the same time completely original. The outstanding compositions are in turn aggressive and heartfelt, while Lisenby's voice is nearly
overwhelming in its subtlety, range, and emotional diversity. "I never stopped singing entirely, but I'm approaching it from a
different place now and people are responding. I feel like my time away from music has given me time to mature as a
person. I've finally got some real experiences to sing from."

In December, Lisenby and friends are going into the studio to
produce another album. If the burgeoning energy from the first
album is any indication, we have much to look forward to. “I feel like for the first time I really put myself out there musically, and now that I have a sense of where that can lead, I just want to take it further. We were at the end of the project when I realized I had only just starting tapping into something.”

In this era of bubble gum rock, that's something worth waiting for.

Interview

What inspires you about other singers?

I’m turned on by vocalists who use their voice as an instrument, like Tori Amos or Edie Brickel. They don’t just sing the lyrics. In high school my dad paid for me to take voice lessons, which I thought were useless, because I didn’t want to learn to sing with a perfect, pretty voice. I thought voices that were rough, crackly and occasionally off-time were more interesting, powerful.

What was it like making your first album?

It was wonderful, challenging, painful...We were giving birth to something good and all kinds of feelings go with that. Being my first project, I had to push through a lot of fear. You’re putting yourself out there and working through your inner world in front of everyone. That’s scary…but cool. I feel very satisfied with it.

You are very motivated artistically. What are you striving for in your art?

Because of the material I interact with it’s very intimate. I’m in it. There’s no distance. One of the things I strive for is to quite the mind enough to make space for something else to come through. I’m satisfied when I can reach that place of fearlessness, where I’m willing to try anything. It’s a kind of freedom. Like it’s okay to go there. You don’t ge

Discography

Radio play is forthcoming on two Belgian stations.

Set List

We are primaraly a studio project at this point. However, we have played some live gigs and are coordinating a possible European tour in Summer 2003.