Jacksonville singer and producer Joy Dennis finds her passion in music

Read more at Jacksonville.com:
View The Florida Times-Union Link

By Tonyaa Weathersbee

Joy Dennis sorted through a few hobbies and suffered through a bit of heartbreak before she found her voice.
Thankfully, it’s a voice everyone else now gets to hear.
“I started out in sports,” said Dennis, a local singer and producer. “I had cousins who went to Ribault [High School], and I went there to run track. … At one point, I was into tae kwan do, but I grew out of it.”
Then she found chorus.
Dennis had sung in her church choir as a youth, and in elementary school. But in chorus she learned the dynamics of singing, and the principals of how to sing.
“It was like a breath of fresh air to me,” she said.
Dennis, 31, is giving others a chance to sample what she’s created since then.
Last summer, she released her first CD, “Music Is.” It’s a spicy stew of songs seasoned with blues, funk, jazz, R&B and other forms of music that can spur listeners to dance, to amen or to simply reflect.
One song, “Electric Chair,” is Dennis’ remake of a blues song originally sung by Bessie Smith, then by Dinah Washington, about a woman contemplating using a knife to end the abuse she’s suffering from her man. Another is simply titled “Dear John,” about a heartbroken woman writing a letter to the one who broke her heart.
Travis Lockley, who owns Visionary Studios in Northwest Jacksonville where Dennis rehearses, said he can even relate to “Electric Chair.”
“I see it as being about how people can do you wrong in general, so much to the point where you don’t care about what happens to you if you go after them with a knife.”
But, Lockley said, he sees most of Dennis’ music as being “relaxing, lovable and soothing.”
Recently, Dennis held a party to herald the video release of “Electric Chair” and “He Awaits.” And while her future in music looks promising, Dennis said her main job as a child abuse investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families exposes her to experiences that help to shape her voice.
“With one of my videos, ‘Electric Chair,’ I wanted to give awareness to domestic violence,” she said. “Children get hurt, they get in the middle when they’re trying to break up their parents’ fights, and they’re emotionally and mentally abused just by seeing that.”
Dennis has had her share of emotional bruises herself. After graduating from Ribault in 1997, Dennis suppressed her passion for a more practical pursuit: A college degree. She majored in psychology at the University of North Florida.
She said she experienced some painful times in college. And like many of the single mothers she encounters on her job, she was also affected by growing up without her father in the home.

“My mom gave me a lot of love, and I still had a strong male influence, my grandfather, and I visited my father,” she said. “But there’s nothing like having a dad in the home.”
But, she said, she found a way through it.
“I started writing poems in college, and I went through a tough time in college, trying to go to school, trying to have a life, and at times I felt lonely when relationships and friendships ended.”
Dennis began singing again in 2004.
“I started going out to the live venues and the poetry readings, and then I would come back home and listen to my CDs and my mom’s old records,” she said. “One night I had the opportunity to sing at an open mike venue, and I was asked to come back for an audition to sing at an album release for Jill Scott. I got a chance to sing ‘A Long Walk.’ After that came more exposure and more opportunity.”
Dennis turned what used to be a hobby into a serious pursuit.
“Joy’s a very soulful artist,” said Jeremy Gray, who plays bass for her. “Everything she sings comes from life experiences.”
Said Dennis: “I plan to continue to put out good music … that can say to people, ‘You’re not the only one going through this. … I’ve been there’ ”

To order Dennis’ music, go to www.joydennismusic.com, or call (904) 302-8146.
Tonyaa Weathersbee: (904) 359-4251

Leave a reply