Sixties Brill building songwriter who wants to be a singer and central character of the 1996 movie Grace of my Heart. Real name Edna Buxton (played by Illeana Douglas), of the rich Philadelphia family that owns Buxton Steel. She enters the 1958 McMartin Singing Competition and wins with Rosemary Clooney's "Hey There." First prize is a recording contract with McMartin Records, but it never goes anywhere. She sings all over New York only to be told, "we've already got someone like you."
A producer takes pity on her and gives her recording of her original song "In Another World" to manager Joel Millner (John Turturro), who wants it for his group The Stylettes. A hit, he gives her a job song writing. She spends the sixties writing hit singles for various artists, having unhappy love affairs, and sporting an endless parade of awful period hairdos.
Finally, in 1970, Joel ousts her from the hippie Idyllwyld Commune to help her record her long-dreamed of solo album, titled Grace of My Heart, which goes platinum. Her life is loosely based on real Brill hitmaker Carole King. The movie's original period songs were various collaborations with Brill vets and younger writers. Denise's big ballad, "God Give Me Strength," was cowritten by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, at director Allison Anders' instigation, and sparked further collaboration that led to their 1998 album Painted from Memory. Kristen Vigard was Illeana's singing voice.