STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
One of music’s unique and gifted vocalists and songwriters, Northern California’s Brett Dennen emerged from obscurity with the release of his 2004 self-titled debut album.
More than a decade later, critically acclaimed Dennen is riding the wave of success as a folk pop artist and beyond.
Dennen’s imprint was first realized when he created an original musical curriculum for The Mosaic Project, a San Francisco based non-profit group. The Mosaic Project serves elementary students through adults in the workplace by teaching them how to reach over the things that divide us in order to build inclusive communities where we celebrate our diversity.
Dennen is prominently featured contributing ten songs on the Mosaic Project’s album release “Children’s Songs for Peace and a Better World” (2003). The record won the Children’s Music Web 2004 Award and a Parent’s Choice 2004 Approved Award.
With three album releases to his credit (“Brett Dennen” (2004), “So Much More” (2006)
And “Hope for the Hopeless” (2008)), Rolling Stone magazine praised Dennen as an “Artist to Watch” in 2008. Entertainment Weekly heralded him as one of its eight “Guys on the Rise.”
“When I first started making music, I didn’t consider myself an artist with something I wanted to say,” recalls Dennen., from his California home. “It was more like, ‘I really like songs.’ But now, as I get into it more and more, the challenge is discovering I’m an artist. I have to really dig deep. I didn’t think about trying to be different. I was just trying to be the best that I could. I wasn’t trying to be different than everybody else. It just came out that way.”
A concert tour with John Mayer in 2008, an appearance on the David Letterman Show in 2009 and a performance at the Newport Folk Festival that same year, helped introduce Dennen to a massive audience.
Dennen has gone on to enjoy TV and film success. His songs “Ain’t Gonna Lose You,” “She Mine,” “Darlin’ Do Not Fear,” “Wild Child,” “Sweet Persuasion,” “When We Were Young” and “Hard Times Come Again No More” have been prominently featured in both.
“The passion that you’re hearing in my voice — I would just call that honesty,” says Dennen. “I don’t write songs that I don’t believe. I want each song to reflect from the heart that I mean it or I don’t want to say it. Songwriting and making music is the way of figuring out who I am. I just try to write music that makes people feel hopeful. I can’t think of any other thing that I want to do. I continue to feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Dennen’s thirst to maximize his creativity has recently found him delving into the world of wine making with the release of his “Charismatic Feel” sparkling rose wine. His original artwork adorns the label.
“It came out this year,” says Dennen. “We’ve been working on it for a few years. I had always dreamed of having a wine label, I drank wine but I never made wine. I never really thought it was going to be.”
“A few friends of mine that used to be in the music industry started a company where they get artists to produce a wine and they print labels for them and they approached me,” adds Dennen. “I thought, ‘Yeah, I think that would be great.’ So through the process of tasting wine, blending wine, meeting producers, wine makers and all that stuff that goes into making wine, we have a label and we just released a small batch of sparkling rose at the beginning of this summer. So, we’re going to see how it goes.”
“The wine is good,” says Dennen. “My fans seem to like it. It’s a little expensive. I’d like to produce something that’s more in the $15 range. There are a lot of companies that are starting to do this with movie stars and musicians. I think it’s a really nice wine. It has an elegance that I think a sparkling wine needs to have.”
With plans to release his next album, his first since “Smoke and Mirrors” in 2013, Dennen is hitting the concert trail for a brief U.S. tour.
“I am going out on just a quick tour then, right after that, I’m going straight into the studio,” says Dennen. “I’m doing this just as a way to get back in a groove of making music all the time. I have taken the summer off to write music for the next album before I go record it. This will give me a chance to play a few new songs here and there on tour to get back in the mode of making music.”
IF YOU GO
What: Brett Dennen
Where: Colonial Theater, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville.
When: Concert is set for 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8.
Tickets: Call (610) 917-1228 or check www.thecolonialtheatre.com. All ages are welcome.
Info.: To stay up to date with Brett Dennen, visit www.brettdennen.net.