(Co-Write With Joe Deninzon on Song with Muhammad Ali about Leadership and Respect)
In support of Black History Month (February 2020), D-Zone Entertainment is proudly releasing the single, “The Greatest Lives” in digital stores and streaming sites on Friday, January 31.
The song is from “The Greatest Lives Songwriter’s EP,” which will be out March 21. It is sung by Thembeka Mnguni, a finalist for South Africa’s The Voice in 2016. Her name is pronounced “Them-bek-kah Mmn-Gu-Nee.” From Durban, SA, she is signed to Universal Records. Her greatest cause is as a spokesperson for Autism. She is also a brand ambassador for MUD Designer Makeup SA and for Body Confidence International. In South Africa, Universal is releasing a new song “Stimel” from her upcoming album, which will also include “The Greatest Lives” as a bonus track. Visit her on social media at instagram.com/thembeka_thediva.
Here are digital links:
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2u41eDm
The idea for the song came to Anne in 1984 when Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She wrote in a newspaper article, “What would he want us to know?” and filed it in her box of song ideas. “It would have been a totally different song if I wrote it then because I was more sentimental.” Instead, she worked on the song as her first assignment for when she was offered a songwriting deal during her 60th year in 2018. South Africa’s Sheer Publishing handles one of Anne’s favorite songs, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
She started watching South African news and discovered many women expressing hope for a kinder world. Many went through bullying and abusive situations, and the females were open enough to talk about their experiences. The lyrics for “The Greatest Lives” came from Muhammad Ali’s quotes and philosophies. They became a message about leadership and treating people right.
Joe Deninzon, who grew up in Cleveland, OH, went to college in Bloomington, IN and played throughout the Midwest, knew Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville. He understood the Midwestern sound that Anne was looking for, made a demo, and then the two began to put musicians to work. Using John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” as a role model, they asked Cactus and Vanilla Fudge’s Carmine Appice, who also played with Rod Stewart.
Thembeka loved “The Greatest Lives”’ message about having a strong character. Joe and Anne chose her because they thought she was one of the greatest singers they ever heard. Thembeka showed she was (as the song says) a master by being the runner up on “The Voice South Africa.”
After they heard Thembeka’s performance, they found inspiration from keyboards on albums from the late Oliver Mtukudzi, a Zimbabwean vocalist/guitarist/social activist. Joe knew the perfect keyboardist, Jeremy Beck, who used both acoustic piano and Hammond B3. Hence, the hashtag #BeckDeninzonAppice.
“Joy and optimism in this song, I think, comes from its mission and inspiration. Muhammad Ali dealt with obstacles with optimism and a wink and smile,” Joe says. Joe and Anne, and their musicians, know “The Greatest Lives” will make a difference, and are proud to—as their lyrics say–take a “Never say die” attitude in promoting it!