Denise L. Cook brings to the stage a wealth of experience as a choreographer, producer, assistant director, published author, actor, dancer, spoken word artist, singer and motivational speaker, and is well known as a healer in the field of massage therapy. Asked what motivated her to pursue such a wide range of interests, she answers, “my father always said ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well. And anything you put your time and effort into, you may as well get credentialed’. I believed him, so doing anything less wasn’t an option. With Daddy excellence was the first line of defense against the big bad wolf of life.”
Denise began her career in the arts at an early age establishing her first dance company at the age of eight. Ms. Cook went on to receive her B.A. in Dance and MFA at U.C.L.A. and later a MEd at National University. She has studied, performed and worked alongside such notables as Carmen De Lavelaude, Chester Whitmore, Fayard Nicholas, Debbie Allen, Steven Simeon, Shirley Martin, the U.C.L.A. Dance Company, Hal DeWindt, Eddie Beale, Peter Long, Curtis Gadson, Saul Bernstein, Delilah Williams, H. B. Barnum and Mark Swinton. Stage credits include producer, choreographer, assistant director, lead, principal, and supporting lead roles in known plays, for coloured girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, Tell Hell I Ain’t Coming, Dream Girls, A Chorus Line, Shades, West Side Story, Oklahoma, Legends and Traditions Claim It and the Special Program, and dramatic plays A Shrine To Junior, Love Makes No Sense, and Looking For A Man. Two years on tour with Vickie Winnans in the award winning gospel, Somebody Oughtta Tell God Thank You, and two seasons on BET television sitcom, The Blackberry Inn as Ms. Laura’s evil sister Ruthie Anne and her one woman show titled “Lena Horn Elegance With Lady Day Style” circa 1945. To top it all off, Denise has ventured into the exciting eclectic realm of Spoken Word Artistry. Denise is a prolific writer and captivating performer bringing to life words penned by her hand and others; she invites in, then envelopes her audience with memorable performances.
Her first book and CD, FULL CIRCLE Balance In Life: A collection of poetry and prose chronicling self-love and self-awareness, was nominated for several awards.
(1)What was the effort like in preparing and producing The ORACLE Speaks?
There really was no effort at all in preparing and producing.
The ORACLE Speaks… just because. After having walked through the publishing process with Cullen Chambers of Back To One Publications on my first book, FULL CIRCLE Balance In Life, this one was a breeze. It took six months to publish the first book, only three with The ORACLE Speaks…
(2)Who (what?) is The ORACLE?
The ORACLE is a wise woman who gives no advice save to hold the mirror of life that you may see your own truth. Like the masterful Oracle of Delphi or Malkeventa Melchizedek, I simply point out the truth as I see it. No agenda, just the truth, sprinkled with love, understanding and unconditional acceptance of who and what you are. Pure love. My claim to fame is that I make people feel good about themselves. My hope is to envelope them with my word and love of self and life, that they may find their own truth.
(3)What are the inspirations behind doing both a book of poetry and a music CD? Who inspires you?
The inspirations behind doing both a book of poetry and music CD came from a deep seeded desire to share my word with the world. What better way than to speak the language of Havona (heaven); MUSIC. So, as with the first book, for which I have a companion CD, I set out to do just that. Only the second CD, I Gotta story To Tell, became more than just spoken word with music. Each piece is stand alone and worthy of radio airplay. They are finger-snapping and toe-tapping in additional to being inspirational. Not churchy, just a real feel good experience.
My inspirations are varied, from the candid truths shared by Kahlil Gibran to the sultry honesty of Nina Simone, to the veiled and hidden messages of life shared by Kurt Vonnegut. As a child I really liked e.e. cummings because he broke the standard “writing rules” and David Frost, simply because I liked his style. I would be wrought not to mention Maya Angelou because she’s bold and in your face, which I can tend to be.
(4) How are you promoting The ORACLE Speaks?
I am promoting The ORACLE Speaks, along with my CD, inspirational booklets and other products via the internet, Social Media, book signings, Amazon.com, mostly word of mouth. I don’t have the budget to do a full out publicity blitz, so I rely heavily on the net. I am also a Motivational Speaker and find I am able to promote from the stage. It’s tricky though, you never want to come across as being “salesy”, so you find a balance. Final answer, word of mouth and lately lots of radio interviews.
(5) With such a variety of interests and experiences, what is next for you?
What is next for me is the next book, Facing The Demons. Although the first two books speak to my life experiences, they are camouflaged in the commonality of life experiences we all share; love, death, hardships of life. This third book will speak specifically to some of the incidents in my life which helped to make me who and what I am. An honest shedding of the mask I, we all wear as a way to protect our inner child (innocence). At 53, I certainly can’t be considered an innocent, but I beg to differ and my writing opens the door to the fantasy of innocence that we all strive to cling to.