Danielle Hennerberg. Photo credit Savannah Rodgers
Overland Park, Kansas, resident Danielle Hennerberg is a musician, composer and sound engineer whose love for jazz runs deep. Her music turns elements of jazz, rock and R&B into a musical expression that's entirely her own. In this interview, Hennerberg describes how jazz continues to inform her work, especially the works of Herbie Hancock and Clifford Brown, as well as how she's learned to overcome creative blocks by listening. Enjoy!
Introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
My name is Danielle Hennerberg and I am an Overland Park-based jazz musician. I seek to blend modern rock and R&B motifs with the history and roots of Kansas City jazz. I love my city, and I love the history of jazz in Kansas City. I want to bring that history to modern audiences in a way that is easily accessible and enjoyable.
When did you first start composing music? Who were your earliest influences?
I started delving into the realms of composition in college at UMKC. The professors stressed the need for original compositions and original music for our success as a musician. I take my influences from the likes of Herbie Hancock on his album Head Hunters for the funk and R&B aspects that Herbie brought to jazz. Another early influence was Clifford Brown. His album Jazz Immortal inspired me to pursue a career in Jazz. Clifford's knowledge of music and his creativity inspired me to play.
What is Composition Street? How did it originate?
Composition Street is a musician's collective that I organized as a way to showcase local jazz musicians. I use it as the brand name for all of my published works, and as a group name for any concert that I lead. The name Composition Street actually came about as a play on words from the television show segment called "Conversation Street" on The Grand Tour.
Describe your creative process when writing music. How do you move through creative blocks?
Inspiration strikes me in bursts. I can go months without writing, and then turn around and spend two straight days writing in order to flesh out a full work. Writing blocks pose a particular challenge for me. I can spend months mulling over how to flesh out a piece. Typically, when I hit a block, I listen to music of a similar genre to derive motifs I can incorporate into my own music with my own signature flair.
What music are you currently raving about?
Nevermind by Dennis Lloyd. This song is relatively new, and combines elements of Electronica, Blues, and Hip-Hop to create an almost hypnotic beat with a strong hook.
Tearing At The Seams by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. This album was released in early 2018 and continues on the work of Rateliff's debut album. Rateliff brings elements of R&B to the modern age with soulful lyrics and a strong voice.
Paranoid and Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath. These albums need no introduction. They're just plain good. I've spent the last 6 months playing in a black Sabbath cover band and these two albums are always on my play list both for enjoyment and critical listening.