Giving the Gift of Music — and More
Many of us say we want to “give back” to make our community a better place and to help others in various ways. Yet not all of us actually take the action required to accomplish that goal. Heather Dennis ’07 SCPS, has not only written a book about the history of reggae music, she has created a nonprofit organization to raise funds and bring awareness to leukemia, autism, cancer, the poor, children around the world and the elderly.
She established a foundation, named Give A Little – Get a Lot: Helping Those in Need, that promotes reggae and R & B artists and donates the funds raised from their shows.
The business communications major with family roots in Jamaica and England wrote her first book in 2015. She has pledged all proceeds from “Life Beyond Reggae Music” to the foundation. Dennis transferred to CHC from St. John’s University on Staten Island and found her purpose after graduating from CHC and while working on her book.
“I wanted to give back to my community and others,” Dennis says. “My purpose was to help seniors who need help with medication and meals and children who need school supplies and other means to go to school.”
The former medical case manager was between jobs when she decided to look more deeply into something she has always loved — reggae.
“Fans want to know more about their favorite artists, so I contacted musicians from around the world with a long list of questions,” she explains. “It was amazing! I have 34 stories about reggae artists in the book, and many of them have other lives as professors, doctors and lawyers.”
While researching the book, Dennis discovered that her great grandfather, Granville Campbell, was the first classical singer of the 20th century to come from Jamaica and travel around the world to perform.
The book includes a CD with several minutes of music from each artist. Readers have told her that the book, which is published on Amazon, B&N online and Kindle, informed them for the first time about the different forms of reggae.
“A lot of people don’t know that there are jazz, classical, dancehall, rap, heavy metal, roots and mellow (like Marley) forms,” she says.
“Life Beyond Reggae Music” was entered and positively reviewed by judges in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards last year.
“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished,” says Dennis. “And it was great to have the friends and support I got at Chestnut Hill College. It all made me a stronger person, and made me want to help others. From awesome Miss Shirley at the front desk to Elaine Green and all the staff and faculty. I had a great experience.”
Dennis now lives in Horsham, Pa., and works for a microbiology company. Visit her website: LBRMUSIC.ORG.
— Brenda Lange