Rhonda Denét enjoyed performing for nursing homes and similar organizations throughout her youth in the Washington, DC area. While in graduate school at Florida State University, she again had the opportunity to perform for older populations. During this time she began to develop the idea for a series as her jazz and popular standards repertoire grew. Over time she continued to revisit the idea as she returned to New York City and began creating and producing cabaret shows. She knew a dedicated series that would provide consistent, long term, recurring live entertainment was a novel approach but wasn’t sure how to bring forth such and undertaking.
Over the next few years, Denét continued to revise and reshape the project design, knowing all the while that the human and intimate connection was the most important component and that these timeless songs provided the perfect common ground for intergenerational interaction. She believed that, “the stories told through these songs remain relevant regardless of when they are enjoyed. Great composers and lyricists know how to craft songs that will stand the test of time. This music speaks to the heart and soul of all who take the opportunity to listen with no barriers that normally arise through the societal differences we tend to impose on ourselves.”
In April 2006, Denét’s maternal grandmother suffered a series of heart attacks that were followed by a sharp decline in her health. “My grandmother always enjoyed my singing and had a standing request that I come sing to her whenever I came home. I must admit that I didn’t always go to visit her and trips home had become more and more infrequent. When I got the news of her first hospitalization, I immediately took the next train home. That evening I was by my grandmother’s side. My mother and the nurses said she’d been irritable and unresponsive most of the day so I was a little apprehensive about aggravating her condition. With my mother’s encouragement, I began to sing “Summertime” and suddenly that gracious smile I always knew brightened her face, then she began to rock and speak the lyrics. I made a promise to come to serenade her as often as I could for as long as she wanted.”
Rhonda kept her promise and was able to share several bedside concerts with her grandmother, with the last on the evening before she passed on. “It brought great comfort to know that I could give my gift of song to a woman that still means so much to me in her last days. I knew then that this was a message that it was time for Silver Fox Songs to be made a reality, not only because I want to share with others who enjoy these wonderful songs but also to honor my grandmother and the unique connection we had.”