Ask Anita Denny about music and she'll tell you a dozen a stories and then break out singing the songs she wrote to match. She is a country music singer after all.
Momma don't get excited, Momma don't lose control
Momma I done found a man who stole my heart and soul.
"We've been married 20 years, so it just came out (one day)," Denny said of the song lyrics she wrote about her husband and supporter Larry. Those lyrics are the perfect illustration of the source of Denny's songwriting inspiration - her life.
I came all the way to Texas, now I wanna see a cowboy
From his Stetson hat down to his snakeskin boots
I wanna see him wrangle, does he really jingle jangle?
I wanna see him rope that western moon.
Born out of a trip out west and a desire to see the classic country icon, "I Wanna See a Cowboy" is one of the songs that won Denny a songwriting award in Nashville.
However, the bigger honor was Denny’s induction into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in November, which was the culmination of a lifetime in music.
Whether it was practicing with her father and mother, playing in restaurants or nursing homes or performing on the stage in her very own Ga. Highway 36 Music Barn, Denny has always loved music.
“I’d sneak down the hallway when I was about 4 years old, and crawl down there at night when they (her father’s band) were practicing in the living room and get scolded and crawl back to my room and crawl back down the hallway. I couldn’t stay away from it. It’s just been my life; it’s been my whole life,” Denny said.
She’d even write songs about things she didn’t fully understand.
“I started songwriting at a young age; don’t even know how I knew to do it. I started writing love songs when I was 10 or 11. I didn’t even like boys, didn’t even know what a relationship was,” Denny said.
Easygoing and effervescent, with her blue jeans, thick rimmed oval glasses and dirty blond hair, Denny exudes her love of music and her family.
“I draw mostly from personal experiences. I raised my (four) kids; their lives are in my songs, bless their little hearts,” Denny said and followed up with a warm laugh.
Music has been more of a career than anything else she’s ever done, and those relentless 60-hour weeks of playing nightly shows and writing and recording songs paid off in the form of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.
“This is a night I will never forget definitely. I’m so proud to be included with some of the greatest musicians in the world in this room,” Denny said at the induction ceremony in Atlanta. “I’ve come along way from a little girl who crawled down the hallway at night, snuck out of my bed to go listen to my daddy sing country music with his band.”
“To me, being nominated alone was beyond anything I’d ever dreamed. I’m 55 years old, that don’t happen to me,” Denny said a couple of weeks later. “I told Larry that night I got that award that if I never sang again I could quit and be happy because I don’t know what else I could do.”
In order to make the hall of fame, Denny had to perform at several different venues in the region and sufficiently impress her country music peers. She did that, though she had no idea she was being judged.
Luckily, she had her stories and songs to see her through.
“Music is something I can do all by myself. Something that can take me away, something I can relate when nobody else can,” Denny said. “Some people write books, I guess some people go into the pool room to escape, I go into my music to escape.”
Though she’s content with her life, on second thought, she did think of one thing she’d like.
“I don’t have a big bus yet,” she said.