Jonas Brothers & Mommy Denise in Good Housekeeping: From food stamps to fame.. When Denise was young, her Italian family converted from Catholicism to nondenominational Christianity, and after high school, Denise felt called to missionary work. ‘I had a heart to give my life to service.
I didn’t really know all I could do in that area. After meeting my husband, we were able to work through music.’ Denise Kevin Jonas Sr. met on their very
first day at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas.
The sweet-faced man with an intense demeanor ['He talked like he was going to conquer the world'] had grown up dirt-poor in rural North Carolina with his single mother, and was considered a musical prodigy, singing professionally at age 7.
For income, Kevin tried to help Denise’s parents, who had bought a carpet-installation business in Arizona. The venture didn’t go well: ‘We had to live on food stamps. It was very hard on my husband. He was trying to do something good for the family, but the business wasn’t paying. It was a humbling time.
Now we look back on it as a turning point, something necessary for us to go through so we could properly appreciate where we would be later.’ Kevin Sr. abandoned his dream of becoming a performer, and he took a job that combined his Christian faith and love of music: directing a music..
..program at his and Denise’s old institute. This required the
family, which by the early 1990s included Kevin Jr. and baby Joe, to
spend months at a time on the road in a 15-passenger van, meeting with
students. ‘We wanted [everyone] to feel joy in the presence of our
children. To me, there’s nothing more..
..frustrating than being around a
child who’s annoying. We taught our kids proper manners.’
Denise’s methods: consistency, boundaries and constantly ‘reinforcing
good conduct until it was behavior. Because they’re going to be adults
a lot longer than they’re children.’
Right away, she and Kevin
Sr. could tell that Nick was different. He did not like the usual
childhood pastimes, he didn’t want to play with LEGOs or watch TV: ‘The
only thing Nick would watch was a DVD of Mary Martin in Peter Pan.’
Then he started singing, beautifully. One day when he was crooning at
the salon where Denise got her hair done, another customer said, ‘He
needs a manager.’