Singer-pianist Dena DeRose grew up in Binghamton, N.Y. She began studying piano at the age of 3 and continued classical-music studies throughout her childhood. As a teenager, her love of jazz blooming, she would often sneak out of her parents' house and drive into the city to see jazz players like Hank Jones and Mulgrew Miller.
Courtesy of Dena Derose
DeRose began building a career as a jazz pianist, playing small clubs in and around her hometown. At age 21, the young pianist suffered a debilitating setback. Pain in her right hand was diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. Two surgeries later, DeRose found herself unable to continue her budding career as a pianist. During this time, though, almost as a fluke, DeRose discovered an ability to sing. Her unique style, she says, emerged because of her late start as a singer. Soon after, she began performing in the same small clubs where she'd played piano years earlier, this time as a vocalist.
By age 25, DeRose was back at the piano, playing and singing. She moved to New York and grabbed any gig she could find, playing piano, accompanying other singers, and doing her own mix of singing and playing. With her own money, she produced and released her first album, Introducing Dena DeRose, which was quickly obtained and re-released by Sharp Nine Records.
DeRose has continued to perform and record, with six albums under her belt. She's also been active as an educator teaching at the State University of New York and participating in a rotating residency at North Netherlands Conservatory in Groningen, Netherlands.