Music as Medicine: How Musical Artist Anthony Denny Went From Bullied Teen To Global Rising Star

Imagine being bullied and harassed so much that it becomes your daily reality as a child. Growing older and not knowing what peace feels like, not following the concept of acceptance, and simply trying to wake up, face each day, and crawl back into a hole.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Imagine being bullied and harassed so much that it becomes your daily reality as a child. Growing older and not knowing what peace feels like, not following the concept of acceptance, and simply trying to wake up, face each day, and crawl back into a hole.

This was the reality that 18-year-old American musical artist, Anthony Denny, was forced to face starting from the second grade. Currently known worldwide for his hit song, ‘Mema’, Denny is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and producer from San Bruno, California. Music became his outlet as he was bullied all the way from the 2nd grade to sophomore year in high school. He was harassed for wearing his hair long, his choice of clothing, and his preferred genres of music. He was pushed away for being different. As a child dealing with chronic nervousness, he was diagnosed with the Tics disorder, a compulsive, repetitive sound or movement that’s often difficult to control.

By the 7th grade, Denny had been bullied so much that he was on the verge of suicide. The authorities at school never bothered to help him. His parents had to involve the police in hopes of making a difference.

Denny said about his experience, “My life was pretty much eating itself away.  For a long time — longer than I am happy to admit — my pain was all about me. I didn’t realize what it was doing to other people. Other people like my father. He was at this wits end too.”

His father, Ray Denny, was not about to let the world defeat his son, so in 2014, when Denny was 12, his father got his first guitar. He was also signed up for music lessons with a guitar and bass teacher, Ned Aswell. Denny was introduced to the hard rock and metal genres of music, and he was quick to discover how wrong the stereotypes were.

He said: “I listened to music from artists such as Trivium, Alter Bridge and Five Finger Death Punch and I came to the understanding that the stereotypes about metal are all wrong: this music is full of powerful feelings and I want to contribute my own to the movement.”

His life started to change following his soul-lifting lessons with Aswell, and eventually, the tics stopped bothering him. He was still being bullied, judged, and disrespected at school, but nothing could ever make him change his style. Despite the pain, he had found himself.

 “You don’t get removed by haters.”

Denny joined a music band in 2014, The Lucky Boys, and his confidence began to soar. He was connecting with people who had similar interests and creating magical vibes. He played his first show at a middle school talent showcase in 2014, but the defining point in his career came in 2015 when his band played in San Francisco to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome. There and then, he decided he was going to spend the rest of his life making music.

 Denny continued to thrive until a time when he had to leave high school because he kept getting recognized. He was home-schooled for a while and had the choice of “being a nobody who works a 9-5 or someone who made a living from playing music”. Somehow, he was stonewalled. His passion was withering and he wasn’t forging ahead as he’d planned. Even worse, he got diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and fell deeper into the hole.

Denny was luckily pulled out of the burnout when he wrote a song for his sick grandmother in 2019. He wanted to give her something truly special and came up with the beautiful song titled ‘Mema’. It was supposed to be for her ears and heart only, but somehow, he was moved to release the song across major platforms.

“I didn’t expect much from the release but it blew up and hit everywhere,” Denny said. “I had received so much love from it and so many people told me how it helped them through such a rough time and there’s no feeling better than that.”

Since Mema’s release, Denny has been on a steady rise to solid recognition, discovering more about his passions every day. With over 62,000 followers on Instagram, he now has a solid and growing fan base eager to support his dreams.  

He said: “I’ve been on a mission to continue to release music to inspire and help those who were in the spot I was. I want to show them that we can come out of the worst spot in our lives while fighting hard and climbing to the top. I did it, so why can’t anyone else?”

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Celebrities Join the Fight Against Bullying

    by Shira Blumenthal
    Photo by Alberto Bigoni on Unsplash

    5 Keys to Finding Ultimate Success as a Musician

    by Martin Gray

    Why Bullying Will Never Stop Successful People

    by Lisa Johnson

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.