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New album from Tanya Dennis

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    Posted: 20 Jul 2021 at 7:35pm
Available June 25, 2021

TANYA DENNIS is a singer, violinist, guitarist, and composer who has toured much of the world, backing up some of the top names in the music business. Her newest CD, WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES, has been described as “cinematic” and blends elements of many musical genres -- jazz, samba, tango, gypsy and blues -- capturing her romantic spirit tempered by the ups and downs of a life lived to the fullest. Her previous recordings include Waterdance (1999) and Apartment 9 (2003).
Tanya is currently a resident of Nashville, TN, but with her love of travel and desire for new experiences, you may find her sailing around the Caribbean or exploring the Austrian Alps.
Tanya says music is in her DNA. Her grandmother was an evangelist who recorded gospel music for Chicago’s King label in the 1950s, and her mother, also a singer, performed with Jack Teagarden and also recorded several projects. Tanya still has the player piano and rolls that she grew up with and credits them for her early ear training.
Tanya began performing when she was 16 years old, playing guitar at a deli in North Myrtle Beach. It was also when she fell in love with the violin. Her parents had taken her on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, where she met George Kindler, who played fiddle with David Bromberg’s band. She was spellbound and knew instantly that this was her instrument.
Tanya went on to become a serious violin student and studied jazz theory, electronic music, composition, and classical violin at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Jerry Coker, the famed saxophonist and educator, had started the school’s Studio Music and Jazz program. He suggested to Tanya that she may want to check out the University of Miami Jazz Orchestra as the next step in her studies.
She subsequently spent three years in the University of Miami jazz program, performing with the 80-piece jazz orchestra and also played electric violin and sang with a funk-fusion band that had a regular gig at the Village Inn in Coconut Grove. During this period, Tanya also played with jazz legend Ira Sullivan in his band. It was a life-changing experience for her, but eventually, when the funk band dissolved, Miami lost its appeal. She decided it was time to move on. She was intrigued by Seattle, so she moved there and spent three years playing with various bands at different venues around the area. Seattle had a thriving grunge scene at the time but it was not for her and she realized it was time to plant serious roots for her musical career. She felt her choices were between, L.A., New York or Nashville.

Her father, who lived in Johnson City, TN, was advanced in age, so Tanya moved back to Tennessee to be near him. Being a violinist who could play just about any type music, she had no trouble finding work. Tanya played many local venues with her bands and also sang demos for aspiring songwriters in her early years in Nashville.
According to Tanya, “I really didn’t want to move to Nashville. The music wasn’t really my scene, but I had more work than I could handle, and I wound up spending 10 years performing and touring as a violinist, rhythm guitarist, mandolin player, and backup vocalist with many top names like Faith Hill and Janie Fricke, a two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner, among many others.” Her first recording, Waterdance, was a mixture of jazz, blues, and country. Tanya was voted “Rising Female Star European Market” as a result of Waterdance. The album opened a lot of doors for her and provided several opportunities to tour around Europe at festivals and clubs under her own name.
Tanya dedicates WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES to harmonica master Toots Thielemans. She has always loved his music but had never seen him perform live, so in 2010, she treated herself to a birthday present and flew from Nashville to Oakland, CA, just to attend one of his concerts. Thielemans was very gracious and even played “Happy Birthday” to her. When she was ready to make this album, she invited him to play on it, but he had retired and in poor health.
Tanya still wanted a harmonica player for the project and enlisted HENDRIK MEURKENS, the harmonica virtuoso who has worked with a Who’s Who of jazz greats, like Ray Brown, Paquito D'Rivera, Herb Ellis, Herbie Mann, James Moody, Charlie Byrd, and many more. She flew Meurkens down to Nashville from New York to spend a few days in the studio. She also brought on board some of the finest musicians in Nashville, including JIM FERGUSON (bass), DAVID MARTIN (nylon string guitar), BILLY PANDA (acoustic guitar), DANN SHERRILL (percussion), SCOTT HALGREN (piano), MATT BERRY (acoustic guitar), JOHN RICHARDS (electric guitar), and NOAH HUNTGATE (percussion). Dennis is featured on violin on two tracks.
Tanya is also an avid sailor. She had purchased a 50-foot sailboat after experiencing a series of life-changing events and set sail around the Keys, Bahamas and Caribbean. It was a trip she had always wanted to make, and the time was right for her to reinvent herself musically and personally. The music on WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES is a result of that journey.
Dennis composed seven of the nine songs on the album. She was inspired to write “Chiarascura,” which is a term from the visual arts pertaining to the play of contrasted light and shadow, watching the full moon reflecting on the water. “Till You” is a song about finding your soul mate. “Slow Reckless Tango” is about unrequited love. Tanya’s husband is another avid sailor who crosses oceans solo. She wrote “Where You Are” for him during their transglobal courtship. ”White Sails” is about mornings on the water and re-inventing one’s life. “The World Can Do Without Us Today” was written by Ronnie Hughes, who wrote it as a country song, but Dennis turns it into a jazz ballad. “Indigo” was penned by her good friend and Hall of Fame songwriter, Kostas. “Desolation Sound” is a true story about a scoundrel who broke her heart. She discovered his deceit while they were sailing in Desolation Sound in British Columbia. “All to Myself” was written for a close friend whom she dearly loves.
WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES is a showcase for Tanya Dennis’ smooth voice, superb musicianship, production chops and engaging songwriting. She has had an eclectic career. The multi-instrumentalist has played everything from jazz and rock to country to pop to fusion, and the music on this album moves like a tidal flow of Tanya’s life experiences, both the good and the bad. She likens the project to reaching shore after years at sea.
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WHITE SAILS BLUE SKIES was released on June 25, 2021 and is available everywhere.
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