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Terri Hendrix

Terri Hendrix

Biography

“The Beginning …”

That’s how Terri Hendrix ends her first book: With a promise of more — much more — to come. More books? Yes. More music? Most assuredly. More living with passion, playing with heart and embracing the light to spite the dark — i.e., all that “Spiritual Kind” of stuff that matters most? Count on it. Because the way Hendrix herself sees it, she’s just now getting started. 

“I want there to be more to my life than just mere existence,” she writes in one of the essays featured in her new book, “Cry Till You Laugh — The Part That Ain’t Art.” “No matter what I do, where I go, or whatever trials this year might have in store for me, I want to remember my ability to laugh … I want joy. And hope. And inspiration. And above all, a sense of purpose.”

Joy, hope, inspiration (and laughter, too) are all essential ingredients to the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s art, and it’s a recipe she’s been perfecting for the better part of two decades now. For evidence, one need only listen to her most recent album, “Cry Till You Laugh.” As the title suggests, there’s tears in the mix, too, because Hendrix likes her yin with her yang, if only to keep both honest. But rest assured this is one artist you’ll never find wallowing in misery; instead, she spins sorrow into joy and wrings wisdom from the blues. As she sings on the ebullient “Slow Down,” “I’ve been swimming in quicksand/and I’m coming up for air.” Part affirmation, part battle cry, it’s a rage-against-the-dark message that echoes throughout the rest of the entire album, from the exuberant rush of “Roll On” to the rise-from-dirt/catch-the-light resolve of the introspective “Come Tomorrow.”

“My brain broke when I was about 7 years old, and as I get older, it breaks more often,” Hendrix says of the album’s “Einstein’s Brain,” matter-of-factly addressing the epilepsy that she’s dealt with for most of her life. But as she puts it pointedly in another new song, “Hand Me Down Blues,” “Some things you don’t get over, you just get through.” 

“Cry Till You Laugh” is already one of the best-received albums of her career, with England’s Maverick declaring it “a 100% Terri Hendrix tour de force” and the Dallas Morning News calling it “refreshingly eclectic.” WXPN’s Gene Shay, founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, raves, “‘Cry Till You Laugh’ is wonderful, with some of the best songs I’ve heard in ages. One moment she’s bluesy, the next, refreshingly cool and pure. That takes oodles of talent and musical know how.” As testament to the album’s depth and diversity, nearly every rave review seems to spotlight a different track as a “highlight.” For M: Music & Musicians magazine, “the album’s ultimate triumph is ‘Come Tomorrow,’ a restless but reflective ballad that gives her vocals a rare vulnerability all the easier to embrace.” Texas Music, meanwhile, picked “Einstein’s Brain” and “Berlin Wall” — “two of the most melodically complex and lyrically personal songs she’s ever penned.” “Einstein’s Brain” was also a “Playlist” top-10 pick of the week in USA Today, which called it “a bittersweet reflection on life’s limits, rendered with Hendrix’s usual rootsy grace.” Even rock ’n’ roll legend Al Kooper weighed in, counting “Slow Down” as one of his favorite downloads of 2010. “I love this track,” Kooper wrote in his Boston Herald column, while also marveling at Hendrix’s prolific track record as an independent artist: “Terri is truly a self-made woman. With 12 albums in release on her own label since 1996, she makes me jealous.” 

Indeed, Hendrix is a veritable pioneer in the running-your-own-label revolution sweeping the music industry. Having actually now released 14 albums (counting two official “bootlegs”) in as many years on her own Wilory Records, she is one of very few artists who can lay claim to having always owned all of her master recordings. So it’s only fitting that this Texan trailblazer who lives by the motto “Own Your Own Universe” — and who’s been sharing her hard-earned survival tips in workshops for years, from the Berklee School of Music to her own annual “Life’s a Song” retreat in Port Aransas, Texas — decided to make her first book two books in one. It’s part companion piece to the album with which it shares part of its name, with lyrics, photos and essays linked to the new songs as well as several others from throughout her career. And, it’s also part how-to guide for going your own way in the music business; that’s the section she calls “The Part That Ain’t Art.” It may seem like a crazy mix at first, but in the same way that the essays (like the songs on the album) dance so easily from “cry” to “laugh” and back again, that’s all Terri … to a “T.”

A classically trained vocalist and deft multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin and harmonica), Hendrix is a firm believer in the theory that “life’s too short for one genre,” dodging musical pigeonholes by weaving folk, pop, country, blues and swinging jazz into an eclectic style all her own that plays like a lovingly compiled mix-CD. Add to that her charismatic stage presence and reputation for always delivering an energetic and spiritually uplifting live show (from intimate listening rooms to huge outdoor festivals), and it’s no wonder why she’s been embraced by three generations of loyal fans around the world. As the San Antonio Express-News observed, “Part of the beauty of Terri Hendrix’s music is she’s among the best at recognizing, writing about and celebrating resilience and common ground, the things we can all cry, and laugh, about.” 

“Sometimes people come to me after a show and tell me, ‘My face hurts from smiling,’ and other times, they’ve been crying,” Hendrix says. “As a performer, I feel like it’s my job to get both out of an audience … and as a writer, I feel like it’s my job to get both out of a song. When I do a show, I want people to feel like, ‘Man, we just went on a ride.’”

That commitment to her craft can be traced all the way back to her earliest restaurant and bar gigs along the Riverwalk in her native San Antonio — though her love of music and writing goes back long before she even launched her career. “When I was a kid, I often found escape in books and writing short stories,” says Hendrix. “I wrote so often, that my Mom said she could find me by following my ‘paper trail.’ Then I stole my sister’s guitar, and once I began to write songs, the paper trail grew longer.” 

She took a shine to singing, too, earning a scholarship to study voice at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. In another universe, she might have been an opera singer; but her future in classical music was not to be. “Instead of taking notes, I wrote lyrics all over my music theory notebooks.” She eventually transferred to Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, the hippie-friendly college town halfway between San Antonio and Austin that she still calls home. But she wasn’t long for school there, either; instead, she found the most important mentor of her life in classical musician, teacher and organic farmer Marion Williamson. In exchange for farmhand duties (including milking goats, which explains the mascot Hendrix later adopted for her label), Williamson taught her not only the finer points of Mississippi John Hurt-style guitar picking, but how to book gigs and set up her own PA system. Williamson’s sudden death, which came shortly after the release of Hendrix’s debut album, “Two Dollar Shoes,” was devastating to the young songwriter; but the invaluable education she received from her friend continues to guide her through both life and career.  

Soon after Williamson’s passing, Hendrix began working with producer/guitarist Lloyd Maines (Joe Ely Band, Terry Allen, Dixie Chicks). Their first record together, “Wilory Farm,” garnered significant airplay and tour dates well outside of Texas, and Hendrix’s career has moved from strength to strength ever since, with subsequent albums like “Places in Between,” “The Ring,” “The Art of Removing Wallpaper” and “The Spiritual Kind” receiving critical raves from such publications as Texas Monthly, the Boston Herald, Washington Post, Billboard, Harp and Mojo. She’s also released four live CDs, a popular kids album, “Celebrate the Difference” (which featured the satellite radio hit “Nerves”), a Christmas EP and a decade-spanning collection of previously unreleased studio recordings, “Left Over Alls.”  

In addition to winning several local music awards in San Antonio and Austin (including “Best Singer-Songwriter,” “Best Folk Act” and “Best New Band”), Hendrix co-wrote a Grammy-winning instrumental (“Lil’ Jack Slade”) on the Dixie Chicks’ multi-platinum “Home” album. But the biggest professional and personal honors of her career have all come about in the last year. In 2010, she was inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in Corpus Christi, joining such Lone Star luminaries as Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Doug Sahm. She also received the Art of Peace Award from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, honoring her for creating art in the service of peace, justice and human understanding. And in February 2011, she returned to Abilene to receive an Outstanding Alumni Award by Hardin-Simmons University; the award is given each year to three alumni who have attained outstanding achievements in their field of endeavor, community, state or nation.

All in all, not a bad run … for a start. And now, whether you’ve kept pace with Hendrix from her “Two Dollar Shoes” days or are just now catching up to her via “Cry Till You Laugh” (the album, book or both), get ready for the best part, because that whole “The Beginning” thing at the end of her book was no mere tease. True to her word, Hendrix is currently embracing not only the next stage of her musical evolution, but the launch of her OYOU (“Own Your Own Universe”) Community Arts Center. Inspired in part by Hendrix’s own personal experiences, as well as by people with neurological challenges she has had the honor to meet and play for over the years, the official 501 (c)(3) nonprofit is dedicated to serving the greater San Marcos community with a handi-capable facility that will offer educational and therapeutic arts programs for people of all ages, ethnicities and traditions. 

It’s a dream Hendrix has harbored for years, and “Come Tomorrow” — come today — she’s turning it into a reality.  

 

Biography

“The Beginning …”

That’s how Terri Hendrix ends her first book: With a promise of more — much more — to come. More books? Yes. More music? Most assuredly. More living with passion, playing with heart and embracing the light to spite the dark — i.e., all that “Spiritual Kind” of stuff that matters most? Count on it. Because the way Hendrix herself sees it, she’s just now getting started. 

“I want there to be more to my life than just mere existence,” she writes in one of the essays featured in her new book, “Cry Till You Laugh — The Part That Ain’t Art.” “No matter what I do, where I go, or whatever trials this year might have in store for me, I want to remember my ability to laugh … I want joy. And hope. And inspiration. And above all, a sense of purpose.”

Joy, hope, inspiration (and laughter, too) are all essential ingredients to the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s art, and it’s a recipe she’s been perfecting for the better part of two decades now. For evidence, one need only listen to her most recent album, “Cry Till You Laugh.” As the title suggests, there’s tears in the mix, too, because Hendrix likes her yin with her yang, if only to keep both honest. But rest assured this is one artist you’ll never find wallowing in misery; instead, she spins sorrow into joy and wrings wisdom from the blues. As she sings on the ebullient “Slow Down,” “I’ve been swimming in quicksand/and I’m coming up for air.” Part affirmation, part battle cry, it’s a rage-against-the-dark message that echoes throughout the rest of the entire album, from the exuberant rush of “Roll On” to the rise-from-dirt/catch-the-light resolve of the introspective “Come Tomorrow.”

“My brain broke when I was about 7 years old, and as I get older, it breaks more often,” Hendrix says of the album’s “Einstein’s Brain,” matter-of-factly addressing the epilepsy that she’s dealt with for most of her life. But as she puts it pointedly in another new song, “Hand Me Down Blues,” “Some things you don’t get over, you just get through.” 

“Cry Till You Laugh” is already one of the best-received albums of her career, with England’s Maverick declaring it “a 100% Terri Hendrix tour de force” and the Dallas Morning News calling it “refreshingly eclectic.” WXPN’s Gene Shay, founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, raves, “‘Cry Till You Laugh’ is wonderful, with some of the best songs I’ve heard in ages. One moment she’s bluesy, the next, refreshingly cool and pure. That takes oodles of talent and musical know how.” As testament to the album’s depth and diversity, nearly every rave review seems to spotlight a different track as a “highlight.” For M: Music & Musicians magazine, “the album’s ultimate triumph is ‘Come Tomorrow,’ a restless but reflective ballad that gives her vocals a rare vulnerability all the easier to embrace.” Texas Music, meanwhile, picked “Einstein’s Brain” and “Berlin Wall” — “two of the most melodically complex and lyrically personal songs she’s ever penned.” “Einstein’s Brain” was also a “Playlist” top-10 pick of the week in USA Today, which called it “a bittersweet reflection on life’s limits, rendered with Hendrix’s usual rootsy grace.” Even rock ’n’ roll legend Al Kooper weighed in, counting “Slow Down” as one of his favorite downloads of 2010. “I love this track,” Kooper wrote in his Boston Herald column, while also marveling at Hendrix’s prolific track record as an independent artist: “Terri is truly a self-made woman. With 12 albums in release on her own label since 1996, she makes me jealous.” 

Indeed, Hendrix is a veritable pioneer in the running-your-own-label revolution sweeping the music industry. Having actually now released 14 albums (counting two official “bootlegs”) in as many years on her own Wilory Records, she is one of very few artists who can lay claim to having always owned all of her master recordings. So it’s only fitting that this Texan trailblazer who lives by the motto “Own Your Own Universe” — and who’s been sharing her hard-earned survival tips in workshops for years, from the Berklee School of Music to her own annual “Life’s a Song” retreat in Port Aransas, Texas — decided to make her first book two books in one. It’s part companion piece to the album with which it shares part of its name, with lyrics, photos and essays linked to the new songs as well as several others from throughout her career. And, it’s also part how-to guide for going your own way in the music business; that’s the section she calls “The Part That Ain’t Art.” It may seem like a crazy mix at first, but in the same way that the essays (like the songs on the album) dance so easily from “cry” to “laugh” and back again, that’s all Terri … to a “T.”

A classically trained vocalist and deft multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin and harmonica), Hendrix is a firm believer in the theory that “life’s too short for one genre,” dodging musical pigeonholes by weaving folk, pop, country, blues and swinging jazz into an eclectic style all her own that plays like a lovingly compiled mix-CD. Add to that her charismatic stage presence and reputation for always delivering an energetic and spiritually uplifting live show (from intimate listening rooms to huge outdoor festivals), and it’s no wonder why she’s been embraced by three generations of loyal fans around the world. As the San Antonio Express-News observed, “Part of the beauty of Terri Hendrix’s music is she’s among the best at recognizing, writing about and celebrating resilience and common ground, the things we can all cry, and laugh, about.” 

“Sometimes people come to me after a show and tell me, ‘My face hurts from smiling,’ and other times, they’ve been crying,” Hendrix says. “As a performer, I feel like it’s my job to get both out of an audience … and as a writer, I feel like it’s my job to get both out of a song. When I do a show, I want people to feel like, ‘Man, we just went on a ride.’”

That commitment to her craft can be traced all the way back to her earliest restaurant and bar gigs along the Riverwalk in her native San Antonio — though her love of music and writing goes back long before she even launched her career. “When I was a kid, I often found escape in books and writing short stories,” says Hendrix. “I wrote so often, that my Mom said she could find me by following my ‘paper trail.’ Then I stole my sister’s guitar, and once I began to write songs, the paper trail grew longer.” 

She took a shine to singing, too, earning a scholarship to study voice at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. In another universe, she might have been an opera singer; but her future in classical music was not to be. “Instead of taking notes, I wrote lyrics all over my music theory notebooks.” She eventually transferred to Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, the hippie-friendly college town halfway between San Antonio and Austin that she still calls home. But she wasn’t long for school there, either; instead, she found the most important mentor of her life in classical musician, teacher and organic farmer Marion Williamson. In exchange for farmhand duties (including milking goats, which explains the mascot Hendrix later adopted for her label), Williamson taught her not only the finer points of Mississippi John Hurt-style guitar picking, but how to book gigs and set up her own PA system. Williamson’s sudden death, which came shortly after the release of Hendrix’s debut album, “Two Dollar Shoes,” was devastating to the young songwriter; but the invaluable education she received from her friend continues to guide her through both life and career.  

Soon after Williamson’s passing, Hendrix began working with producer/guitarist Lloyd Maines (Joe Ely Band, Terry Allen, Dixie Chicks). Their first record together, “Wilory Farm,” garnered significant airplay and tour dates well outside of Texas, and Hendrix’s career has moved from strength to strength ever since, with subsequent albums like “Places in Between,” “The Ring,” “The Art of Removing Wallpaper” and “The Spiritual Kind” receiving critical raves from such publications as Texas Monthly, the Boston Herald, Washington Post, Billboard, Harp and Mojo. She’s also released four live CDs, a popular kids album, “Celebrate the Difference” (which featured the satellite radio hit “Nerves”), a Christmas EP and a decade-spanning collection of previously unreleased studio recordings, “Left Over Alls.”  

In addition to winning several local music awards in San Antonio and Austin (including “Best Singer-Songwriter,” “Best Folk Act” and “Best New Band”), Hendrix co-wrote a Grammy-winning instrumental (“Lil’ Jack Slade”) on the Dixie Chicks’ multi-platinum “Home” album. But the biggest professional and personal honors of her career have all come about in the last year. In 2010, she was inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in Corpus Christi, joining such Lone Star luminaries as Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Doug Sahm. She also received the Art of Peace Award from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, honoring her for creating art in the service of peace, justice and human understanding. And in February 2011, she returned to Abilene to receive an Outstanding Alumni Award by Hardin-Simmons University; the award is given each year to three alumni who have attained outstanding achievements in their field of endeavor, community, state or nation.

All in all, not a bad run … for a start. And now, whether you’ve kept pace with Hendrix from her “Two Dollar Shoes” days or are just now catching up to her via “Cry Till You Laugh” (the album, book or both), get ready for the best part, because that whole “The Beginning” thing at the end of her book was no mere tease. True to her word, Hendrix is currently embracing not only the next stage of her musical evolution, but the launch of her OYOU (“Own Your Own Universe”) Community Arts Center. Inspired in part by Hendrix’s own personal experiences, as well as by people with neurological challenges she has had the honor to meet and play for over the years, the official 501 (c)(3) nonprofit is dedicated to serving the greater San Marcos community with a handi-capable facility that will offer educational and therapeutic arts programs for people of all ages, ethnicities and traditions. 

It’s a dream Hendrix has harbored for years, and “Come Tomorrow” — come today — she’s turning it into a reality.  

 

Discography