Harry Dennis (musician)
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|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Years active||1980s - present|
Harry Dennis (sometimes spelled "Harri") was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is considered as one of the "pioneers" of house music due to his emergence as an artist around the same time as house music in late 70s - early 1980s. He developed a distinct writing style and writes his own lyrics. He executes a distinct vocal presence and has been credited in delivering a deep house sound. Harry Dennis has and continues to contribute to the industry by producing house music that has spanned 25+ years. He describes himself is a pioneer, a consummate artist and a house music guru.
Harry Dennis is a native Chicagoan who completed his elementary and high school education in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). While attending college at Illinois State University (ISU), he incorporated drama and music into his core studies and discovered his penchant for songwriting and lyric development. While on college breaks, he routinely attended Chicago venues where his music and songwriting interest solidified. In 1982, Harry graduated from Illinois State University (ISU), returned to Chicago to work and begin his music career. A frequent partygoer, he met Robert Williams, owner/operator of a local nightclub--the Warehouse that catered to house music enthusiasts (aka "househeads"). When the Warehouse closed in 1983, the Music Box nightclub was opened by Robert Williams continuing the house music momentum. At the Warehouse Harry cites meeting Frankie Knuckles, a talented and well-known radio and disc jockey from New York, as being instrumental in introducing house music to Chicago. Watching Frankie Knuckles expertise at the turntables and his ability to create/mix beats that the audiences quickly embraced was a turning point in his life. After becoming friends and acquaintances with Mr. Knuckles and a number of the leading disc jockeys, vocalists, and musicians in the house music industry during the initial years of house music, Harry determined that being a lyricist was a natural fit and would allow him to segue into the house music industry. Music would be his canvass and lyrics would be the brushes.
Harry stated that among the many artist he met in his first decade in the business, he was most influenced by a remarkable mixologist, disc jockey, and music producer named Ron Hardy. He cites Ron Hardy's expertise as being uniquely different and electrifying. When reflecting on Mr. Hardy, he says, "Ron Hardy was masterful in his talent and had a keen ear for music. Like Frankie Knuckles, he stood out." He remembered Mr. Hardy as being a charismatic individual with very high energy and a love of house music--that Ron took house music to another level that complemented the craft. In reflecting on the years he knew Ron Hardy, Mr. Dennis commented that he and Ron were great friends and interacted more like brothers than colleagues.
With his own distinctive writing style and vocals, Harry began his recording career in 1983 and in 1985 he released what would become a house music classic, Donnie Harry characterizes his style as being similar to Gil Scott Heron's beat poet delivery. Harry states that he often uses few words to describe a feeling, a scene, a situation. His lyrical style is typically considered "deep" because he juxtaposes the sociopolitical aspects of life with natural inclinations that war within the psyche and emotions common to men and women. On his lighter side, he renders classic house vocals that resonates against the backdrop of rhythmic and intricate layers of eclectic house beats created by the best engineers and producers of house music. Harry is considered one of the Godfathers of House Music" because of his tenure in the business and his undeniable adaptability and creativity in creating new music. He is featured Godfather in a video produced by Openhouse Recordings
Music Career Profile: 1980s-1990s
Dennis's first success as a writer/lyricist was evidenced by the 1985 hit single Donnie. He formed a group named The It with artists Larry Heard and Robert Owens. Donnie was launched on the Chicago underground house scene (with Chip E. as producer) in 1985. Its popularity on the house scene quickly spread to the east coast. Donnie was distributed worldwide by DJ International in 1986. Chip E. was instrumental in launching Dennis's career and contributed to the success of Donnie, a deep house cult classic.
During 1986-1989, Dennis was recruited to Trax Records by Marshall Jefferson, who is considered the originator of acid house. Together, they formed the group Jungle Wonz. Under the Trax Records label, they recorded the house hits Time Marches On and Jungle.
In 1988, Fingers Inc., a group formed by producer/musician Larry Heard, Dennis, Larry, and musician/DJ Robert Owens, produced Distant Planet with Dennis as writer and vocalist. The single was released under the Indigo Music/Jack Trax label. Dennis also collaborated as lyricist and vocalist with Robert Owens and Larry Heard to record the single Gallimaufry Gallery, which was released under the Black Market International label. During 1990-1991, Dennis penned other house favorites working with Larry Heard. Under the Big Life Records label, they recorded an album in London and released In This Place Called Nowhere, Endless Journey, Brazilian Love Dance, Rain Forest Serenade, When Will We Learn, Endless Flight, Living For The Man, and Brazilian Love Dance (Interlude). In 1993, and Marshall Jefferson collaborated and released on YouTube on the Trax Record label.
Music Career Profile: 2000 to Present
Ending a sabbatical in 2005, Dennis returned with new material and new ideas.
While working on a new album, Dennis appeared as a guest on one or more occasions, streaming live on the internet for Chicago House Radio, WHPK 88.5 FM, and Triton College He provided voiceover on tracks for disc jockeys. Dennis also performed live at various Chicago hot spots, including the Regal Theater, the House Spot, House of Blues, the Shrine, and The Club. It was not unusual for Harry and fellow house music artist, Curtis McClain"Move Your Body" (song herald as the "house music anthem") to share the stage.
Some of his business affiliations include house music execs such as Marshall Jefferson, Chauncey Alexander and David Dee of Openhouserecordings, Inc.. Dennis and Jefferson's camaraderie and business relationship started during the 1980s with the formation of the group Jungle Wonz. Under the Open House Recording label, a new album was released in June 2011 entitled Jungle Wonz: The Jungle Sky EP, produced by Marshall Jefferson. This album included an updated version of the original "The Jungle" signature recording, along with several renditions of a new single, "Kiss the Sky," written by Dennis, Curtis McClain and Marshall Jefferson. Other projects include producer Jerry C. King of Kingdom Records to produce and release Grey Afternoon and Get Up; Ron Trent of Prescription Records to produce and release Urban Blues, Nights Like These, Beautiful Night, The Ron Hardy Dedication, Altered States (The Mothership Version), and We're So Deep.
Harry has built professional affiliations and camaraderie with legendary artists, producers and/or DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Robert Owens, Marshall Jefferson, Farley Keith Williams ((aka Farley "Jackmaster" Funk), Larry Heard, Ron Trent, K'Alexi Shelby, Mike Dunn, Kim Jay, Terry Hunter, Ali Coleman, Jesse Saunders, Andre Hatchett, Larry Levan, Jerry C. King, Gene Hunt, Wayne Williams, Alan King, Louie Vega, Mike Winston, Roy jones, Ron Carroll, Black Terry, Deezo Rogers, Kenny Ray, Tony Humphries, Scorp Banon & Sean Haley (WindiMoto), and many more. Remixes of Harry's music may be found on YouTube and other music websites (see a few titles listed below).
Following the 2012 release of his album, The Jungle Wonz: Deliverance, Harry Dennis was featured on Chicago's Black Business Network, interviewed by founder and host, Sonja Perdue. The live interview, Legend Harry Dennis Unleashes 21st Century House Musicstreamed live over the internet to broadcast listeners.
In 2013 he penned and released a new single, "No Matter," produced by Ricard Perez on the Epoque Music label.
In September 2014, Alleviated Records released an album entitled "The IT," reigniting the exceptionally collaborative and creative dynamics that emerge when Harry Dennis and Larry Heard put their talents to the test. This album/collection is not their first collaboration, and it won't be their last. "The IT EP," re-affirms their ability to render solid house music that is reflective of their former collaborations while simultaneously showcasing their finese at staying abreast of contemporary house music. This album contains two singles by Harry titled Beauty in a Picture and Somebody Somewhere.
Each year Harry attends and/or performs in the widely acclaimed Chosen Few Music Festival (aka Chosen Few Picnic) held in Chicago, Illinois. This annual event is herald as the largest house party event in Chicago with thousands of former and new househeads attending each year.
Well into the 21st century, Harry Dennis keeps his music alive and relevant via projects requiring lyric development, vocals, and collaboration. He describes himself as being passionate about house music. He continues to broaden his network of producers, musicians and disc jockeys and has been featured on cable and radio shows. He performs at nightclub venues, private parties and citywide events. His former and current recordings may be found on YouTube, Soundcloud, Tranxsource, Beatport, Amazon, Discogs, Juno Records, InnerDisc, HardWax, Kingdom Records, ZIPPYSENSE, Spotify, Butzz, Mixcrate Music, etc.
The summer of 2016 will be an eventful season for Harry Dennis. He will be a featured house music artist at the 2016 Chosen Few Picnic held July 2-3 in Chicago, IL. This event is featured in a recent article by Arts and Entertainment Editor, Mary L. Datcher in the Chicago Defender. The Chosen Few Picnic, considered by many as the largest house music events in the United States, features the leading house musicians in the business. From vocal artists, to DJs, to musicians and producers, this event draws an estimated 60,000 "househeads" annually. A recent article in 5chicago.com by a staff writer described the event as "House music's souled-up Woodstock!"
- 1986 - Donnie
- 1986 - The Jungle
- 1987 - Time Marches On
- 1988 - Distant Planet
- 1988 - Gallimaufry Gallery
- 1990 - In This Place Called Nowhere
- 1990 - Rainforest Serenade
- 1990 - Endless Journey
- 1990 - Brazilian Love Dance
- 1990 - Endless Flight
- 1990 - Living For The Man
- 1993 - Bird in a Gilded Cage
- 2011 - The Jungle (Remake)
- 2011 - Kiss The Sky
- 2012 - Up
- 2012 - The Jungle
- 2012 - Deliverance
- 2012 - Rainforest Serenade
- 2012 - Ancestors Walk
- 2012 - Time Marches On
- 2012 - 20 Paces From the Moon
- 2012 - Beautiful Nights
- 2012 - Mystic Voyage
- 2012 - Grey Afternoon
- 2012 - Season's Rain
- 2012 - Urban Blues
- 2012 - We're So Deep
- 2012 - Nights Like These
- 2012 - Get Up
- 2012 - Loving Every Moment (Just To Be With You)
- 2013 - Mystic Voyage (instrumental)
- 2013 - No Matter
- 2013 - Little Boy
- 2013 - She Got Problem
- 2014 - Somebody Somewhere
- 2014 - Beauty in a Picture
- 2015 - Spanish Sunrise
- 2015 - Funky Nursery Rhyme
- 2016 - Penderstreet Steppers vs. Harry Dennis
- 1987 - Trax Records (Sampler)
- 1988 - Jungle Wonz (The Justin Strauss Remixes)
- 1988 - Fingers Inc. (Another Side)
- 1990- The It (On Top Of The World)
- 1995 - Mr. Fingers (Classic Fingers)
- 2011 - Jungle Wonz: The Jungle Sky EP
- 2012 - Jungle Wonz: Deliverance
- 2014 - The IT/EP
Original Mixes & Remixes
- "Rik-Art and Twisted Mind feat Harry Dennis - No Matter (Original Mix)
- "The It Featuring Harry Dennis" - Gallimaufry Gallery (Club Mix)
- "The It featuring Harry Dennis - Gallimaufry Gallery (Short Version)
- "1988 Fingers Inc. - Distant Planet (Club Mix) -Vocals - Harry Dennis
- "The It featuring Harry Dennis - Gallimaufry Gallery (Dub Version)
- "Soul Deep House: Ron Trent ft. Cei Bei & Harry Dennis - Ron Hardy (Dedication to you)
- "Harry Dennis featuring Kim Jay & DeShawn Dennis - "Get Up" (part III, Jerry C. King mix)
- "Loving Every Minute (Just to Be with You) Mac Da Knife feat. Harry Dennis "The IT"
- "Fingers Inc. - Distant Planet-Universal Mix
- "1988-Fingers Inc. - Distant Planet (Club Mix) Vocals - Harry Dennis
- "The It featuring Harry Dennis - Gallimaufry Gallery (Club Mix)
- "SoulDeep Inc. & Jerry C King feat. Harry Dennis - Grey Afternoon (Funkellers Remix)
- 2013 DJ International - Harry Dennis Interview
- 2014 Summer Event, James R. Thompson Bldg., Chicago, IL
- 2015 Legacy of House Music Project, City of Chicago, Dept. of Cultural Affairs
- 2015 25th Anniversary Chosen Few Picnic
- 2015 House Music Legacy Project
- 2015 Harry Dennis & Curtis McClain Performs @ Legends of House Music Event