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Q+A with LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition Finalist Rachard Dennis

April 27th, 2022

Poet-teacher-rapper Rachard Dennis is up next and ready to change the world. The Bossier native represents for his community and his culture, providing bars to uplift and rhymes to make you think. Rachard draws inspiration from a variety of musical genres to tell his story; historically Black art forms such as hip hop, gospel, jazz, neo-soul, and the blues all lend to his sonic profile. His brand, For The LO., is tatted on his arm and on his heart; for the burgeoning artist, For The LO. encompasses a movement of like-minded friends and family, all hoping to leave their musical mark on the world.

NewSong Music: What inspired you to enter the NewSong Contest?

Rachard Dennis: Last year, 2021, I entered the New Song International Songwriting Contest and came up short of being selected as a finalist, but Mr. Gar sent me a personal message that sort of lit a fire within me. This year I just wanted to take up the opportunity to be heard, so I shared a record that’s special to me and here we are.

What was your introduction to music?

I’m from the south and come from southern baptist gospel roots, so the hymns and praise and worship music of the church were my first musical experiences.

What is the first song you wrote that you were proud of, and why?

“Children of the Ghetto.” In that moment more than ever I knew I had written something so personal yet so universal. I feel like that’s a sweet transcendence that is often celebrated when accomplished.

What instrument do you play, and why?

No instruments. I tried to take up piano, but I never could devote the time and attention to it that it deserves. I believe the energy and effort that I placed into studying the craft of writing and learning to embrace my voice is an interesting alternative.

How did the pandemic impact you as an artist (for better or worse)?

I love performing, and to have the stage taken away from me at what was my most productive season, sucked. Yet, I can truly say that I grew as a writer and recording artist over that period of time. I was also able to redefine my purpose and goals within the arts.

Does the place where you grew up inspire you as an artist? If so, in what way?

Most definitely. It’s the backdrop to each of these stories I’m telling. Coming from a place like Bossier Parish, who many don’t know exists, gives me the opportunity and responsibility to introduce listeners to the land I call home.

In what ways does the craft of songwriting still surprise you?

I’ve been songwriting for 12 years now, and I feel as if I’m truly just touching the surface of my potential as a songwriter. There are great songs within me that will take working on the craft to get them out. That’s what I love about it, the devotion to the craft and the journey you go on to develop the ability to articulate a feeling, thought, experience, etc. so well.

What are some of your creative goals for this year?

Premiering a musical theater production in Shreveport, LA titled The Art of the Eulogy on October 1, 2022. As well as studio work with my bandmates, and hopefully some performance/touring opportunities.