Local Music Makers
Deep Medicine Music from Jenny Renee Bradley
By Peggy Ratusz
I was introduced to Jenny Bradley in December 2022 at a holiday charitable concert event benefiting Beloved of Asheville. With her young daughter Blu Belle by her side, they perform under the duo name, Moon Water.
The audience was delighted to receive two Christmas serenades from this harmonious twosome that afternoon. Since then, Jenny and I have been slowly getting to know one another. As a way for all of us to get more acquainted with this songstress with a penchant for songwriting, whose tastes run the gamut from Cher to Linda Ronstadt, from Old Time and Gospel to Americana; I recently sent her a series of questions.
You moved to Asheville when, from where, and why?
After I married in the 90s, we moved to Chicago where I taught piano at Old Town School of Folk Music. We then moved to Manhattan and I stayed there after we divorced, and for 18 years I ran a traveling music school. We offered in-home music and family band lessons and birthday party entertainment.
When Covid hit New York City so hard, we decided to ride out the pandemic at our family cabin in Franklin NC. It’s where my grandmother was born. When months turned into a year, I decided to move us to Asheville.
How did you assimilate into the music community once you got here?
I met local songwriter, David Earl, and we spent hours singing and harmonizing together. I hadn’t written a song in 25 years, but after learning his tunes and watching his process, I was excited to begin again. I had been watching local live music concert streams from the cabin and leaving virtual tips with notes to the performers.
Once the world opened up, I made a point to support these musicians in person. I also met pedal steel player Matt Smith and fell in love with his playing and energy. Then I met and made friends with singer songwriter Taylor Martin by attending his weekly open mic. I met a bunch of talented songwriters there; including Ashley Heath, who is also now, my good friend.
Do you have a songwriting process?
I wake up in the morning with “dream songs” after I’ve literally dreamed lyrics, melody and chords. I record them on voice memos as soon as I wake. I have dozens of these short recordings. Some of them turn into full songs. “Velvet Roses” from our latest album is an example of a dream song.
Your children play music too, and you perform as a duo with your daughter, Blu Belle. Tell us about that project, about Blu Belle, and about your son, Bud.
Viewing live stream concerts during the shut-down, we were inspired to start our own monthly series from the cabin in Franklin. For hours every day we’d sit on the porch and jam. The pandemic afforded us much needed family time. We constructed a makeshift drum kit for my son Bud, 8 years old at the time.
A Djembe served as the bass and a banjo head as the snare with a tambourine propped up. He took virtual lessons using that makeshift kit. Blu Belle who is now 13, had been studying piano and ukulele. She’s a natural harmonizer so our live streams went extremely well.
We received thousands of views and made enough money from tips to nearly pay for our first album. Our band name, Moon Water, comes from the practice of creating sacred moon water. Blu made moon water during the pandemic and we keep the jars nearby while we practice.
How do you and Blu approach learning a new song?
I usually write the first draft and present it to her. She then offers suggestions on lyrics or chords. Once we get the melody as we want it, she works her magic and adds harmonies. Once the song is complete, we bring Bud in on percussion to jam.
What does it feel like to you when an audience really gets what you are sharing?
When we performed our album “Deep Medicine” at Isis Music Hall this past September, I told my story from the stage. The story of raising children without help, the story of beating cancer, the story of moving from NYC to WNC; it was my truth through song and I felt for the first time in my life, heard.
Tell us about that record.
What a dream! Crème de la crème of Asheville! The producer is Gar Ragland, who also moved to Asheville from NYC, so we had that connection. Blu Belle and I recorded it at Citizen Studios with the help of Matt Smith and internationally acclaimed band, The Honeycutters, was our backing band.
Any new releases coming down the pipeline?
We will release two covers this month; one is our own arrangement of Cher’s song, “Believe” and the second one is a song that was written by Paul Anka and previously recorded by Buddy Holly and Linda Ronstadt called “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”. These singles will be available to purchase on all streaming platforms.
Jenny Renee Bradley has booked a handful of shows with more being added to her calendar every day. Be sure to check her Facebook music page to stay up to date:
https://www.facebook.com/moonwaterduo. She also teaches guitar and piano and soon will bring her music lesson house calls business to the Carolinas. Feel free to contact here via Facebook or Instagram
What is it about performing that keeps you pursuing opportunities to play?
I feel like I’m making up for lost time. I had breast cancer 6 years ago, and when I think of how I could’ve died and never truly expressed myself through my music because I was too busy making excuses about being busy, it makes me want to cry.
With this second chance in midlife to do what I really want to do, I won’t allow age to stop me. I have something to say and something to share. The fact that I can live this dream with my own children making music by my side is the greatest blessing I can imagine!
Peggy Ratusz is a vocal coach,
song interpreter, and songwriter.
For vocal coaching email her at