The Music

Denise’s recording credits include 7 CD’s:

Road to Freedom – released 2009

Christmas From the Heart – released November 2007

Jazzabel – A recording of great jazz hits from the 1930’s and 40’s from her one woman show Jazzabel.

Live At The Grand -a variety of musical styles with a 12 piece orchestra released in 2003

I’m Home – a gospel recording released in 2001

Missa Gaia Earth Mass released in 2000

Trust the Moment – a jazz recording released in 1998


Road to Freedom

Road to Freedom is a tribute to those who never lost hope, and those who helped to keep that hope alive.

In this recording, Karen Schuessler, the Karen Schuessler Singers and a group of friends have come together to pay tribute to those who lived through this terrible episode of North American history, those who triumphed and those who helped.

Narrations are delivered by historians Bryan and Shannon Prince. Many are actual words of men and women who once were slaves but found the strength and courage to seek freedom – ultimately in Canada – via the elaborate organization of ‘conductors’ and safe houses that came to be known as the Underground Railroad.


Christmas from the Heart

To all the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of working with in making this CD.  I greatly appreciate your talents and your friendship.

To the musicians, Steve Holowitz, Jeff Christmas and Mitch Tyler,
there’s nothing like working with your friends.

Steve, much thanks for all your prep time.

Rob Larose, I love your contribution on Little Drummer Boy.

Sharon Kahan, thank you for your beautiful sound on Away in a Manger.

Liz Akano, thank you so much for your African influence and the lyrics:
“Amutara-anyi onye nzoputa” – A saviour has been born to us, “Ekere esimesi oma” – Happy Christmas, “Obioma” – Joy.

To my precious granddaughter Tayla, I am so very proud of you. You are blessed with many talents and I thank you for sharing.

Thanks to St. James Westminster Church for the use of the piano.

Lynn Blumas, a big thanks for the photo session.

Big hugs to you all.

Guest Vocal on Track 4: Tayla Roeun-Edmonds
Percussion on Tracks 5, 6: Rob Larose
Flute on Track 7: Sharon Kahan



I had a dream a couple of years ago to do a theatrical musical production showcasing my favourite music, jazz.

My friends Louise Fagan and Jacquie Gauthier, eagerly said they would love to be part of this exciting venture.

In September of 2004, we transformed the McManus Studio in London, Ontario
into the Apollo Theater of New York City.

Jazzabel’s two week run was a sell out. Audiences embraced the story, and the music.

We decided to record the soundtrack, featuring a few well known tunes, some forgotten gems from the 1930’s as well as two original songs written for the production.

I hope you enjoy listening to these songs as much as I have enjoyed performing them.

All Compositions Arranged by Jeff Christmas
Stephen Holowitz, Piano
Mitch Tyler, Bass
Jeff Christmas, Drums


Live at the Grand

Music is one of my lifelines and how lucky I was to be sharing my love of music with friends and audience on December 31, 2002, at the Grand Theatre in London. Ontario

Each time I walk through the doors of The Grand, it’s like coming home. It is such a warm, comfortable atmosphere and the perfect setting for a night of music.

I would like to express my thanks to arranger Peter Brennan, special guest artists Satori Shakoor and Jean Meillier and all the musicians for your wonderful musical talent. Thank you to Susan Ferley, Artistic Director and Staff of The Grand Theater for a memorable evening indeed.

A special thank you to my Grand friends Deb Harvey and Rob Wellan who were a pleasure to work with on both the New Year’s Eve Show and this CD project. And especially – thank you to the audience, those who were there with me New year’s Eve and those who are listening now.

Renowned for its beauty proscenium arch, superlative acoustics and intimacy, The Grand theater has, for over 100 years, showcased the finest musical and dramatic talent in the world. gifted song-stylist Denise Pelley joined this stellar company with her performance on New Year’s Eve. and it was a milestone event. she was the first musical artist to perform in-concert with The Grand Theater’s new leading-edge sound system, and the result is the first live CD recording produced by The Grand Theater.

Denise electrified a sold-out audience on New Year’s Eve 2002. with musical arrangements by Peter Brennan and a champagne orchestra of 15 musicians conducted by Jeff Christmas, Ms. Pelley embraced the audience with her extraordinary voice. singing husky baritone for those ‘real mean’ blues or roaring into soprano for those ‘goose-bump’ gospels and Broadway show-stoppers, she put her personal, deeply emotional touch to all the songs in her songbook.

We at the Grand knew, from the very first notes she sang, that this music begged to be shared. And so here you have it…Denise Pelley – Live at The Grand.


I’m Home

My sincerest appreciation to all the musicians for sharing their wonderful talents. Jeff Christmas, Gary McCauley and Brian Ratcliffe, you are all amazing arrangers and brought much joy to this project. Mitch Tyler and Don Di Carlo, my long time friends, you are always fun to work with. Cheryll Harrison, you are an angel for learning more than you share. Kofi, thank you for the African flavour. Rob Finnemore, I am very grateful for your artistic talents. Thank you Les Pyette and Darlene Ropp for helping me make this gospel dream come true.

Thank you to my family for their life-long support. to my three favourite people, Jason for many wonderful memories, and Jordon and Cam for your continuous love and strength and all the hugs we share. and Cam, you’re amazing on “I’m Home”. Jason would be so proud.


Missa Gaia Earth Mass

Missa Gaia/Earth was created by Paul Winter for the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, New York City, dedicated to St. Francis and first performed on Mother’s Day, May 10, 1981. It is an unusual work. Essentially a suite with sections by various composers.

Since 1981, it has been performed many times, almost always with the Paul winter consort.This recording, by the Karen Schuessler singers of London, Ontario, joined my members of the Choir of Christ Church Episcopal and a children’s choir from the Lester B. Pearson School for The Arts, London, Ontario, featuring vocalists and instrumentalists from Southwestern Ontario, represents and independent approach to this work. Actually a most successful approach. It has been performed to capacity audiences annually since 1994, usually at Wesley-Knox United Church, London, Ontario, but sometimes at other venues. Now it has been recorded.


Trust the Moment

It’s time I told myself. “Time to record”. I knew the moment I shared these thoughts with anyone, I’d have to follow through. I’ve wanted to record for years. But it needed to be the right time, with the right songs and the right musicians.

I told my friend and business manager, Patti Murphy. Her reply, “Then let’s do it!”

There was never any doubt as to who I wanted as pianist… John Noubarian. John and I go way back, to grade school actually. He was my teacher during my senior years in elementary school. We have worked together for more than 20 years. I feel working together for that length of time has allowed us to really know each other musically, to anticipate the next chord change or the next modulation. I love his playing and his arrangements. He inspires me.

Ben Heywood, talented guitarist and composer played me his song, “Lover’s Rendezvous”, a few years ago. We had the good fortune to perform it of an orchestra concert and I knew then I wanted to include it on my first recording. I find it a very intimate song and the Spanish translation by Orlando Valencia gives it a particularly nice flavor.

I love acoustic bass and Peter Telford is a joy to work with. His rich sound complements the feel he puts into his playing. I wanted to take a ballad and undress it to almost being bare. Peter helped me do that with “Don’t Explain”. His interpretation let me savor every note.

Mike Kawabe and I used to work together in a rhythm and blues band. He is a diverse drummer who adapts easily. A very tasteful player with great ears, he listens to all the pieces of a song and plays just the right feel, the right fills in all the right places. “Summertime” shows some really nice brush work.

With everything in place all I had to do was walk on stage and…trust the moment.