In this Wee Chat, the fabulous Tess Henley, singer-songwriter, describes her vibe, how much of her performances are mental games and how she mentally prepares for concerts; how she deals with nerves, how she focuses, plus the importance of social support in her life, and what soul really means to her.
Soul singer-songwriter Tess Henley began Suzuki piano training at age three, and by age five was dissecting harmonies that even her mother – a singer by trade – found difficult. Multi-Grammy winning producer Don Was (Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt) recently selected Henley from over 10,000 performers as the winner of Guitar Center’s National Artist Discovery Program.
“She’s unlike any artist that’s out there now, a world class singer with a true gift” says Was. Billboard describes her music as a classy brand of soulful R&B that could hold up in any era of Was’ storied career.
Was produced Henley’s latest EP, “Wonderland”, tracked at Hollywood’s Henson Recording Studios (birthplace of celebrated projects like Carole King’s Tapestry and Joni Mitchell’s Blue). Acclaimed musicians included drummer James Gadson (Beck, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers), James Hutchinson on bass (Bonnie Raitt, BB King), guitarist Mark Goldenberg (Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt), Mike Finnigan on Hammond Organ (Jimi Hendrix, Michael McDonald), percussionist Michito Sanchez (Train, Aretha Franklin), string arranger Davide Rossi (Ed Sheeran, Coldplay) and Henley on keyboards, vocals and background vocals.
As Was describes the project, “Sometimes magic just happens, you can’t really legislate that. There’s no producer in the world who can make that happen. All you can do is try to set up a situation where if lightning strikes the room, you’ve got the tape rolling. And lightning struck. It was a really charmed session, and Tess was amazing, didn’t miss a note all day.”
Henley honed her live performance by opening for folks like Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton, while continuing to build her profile as a songwriter. She got to display those skills during her first national television performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in February where she performed a pair of songs from her EP, “Wonderland.” Henley’s songs have won over $100,000 in awards and honors over the last few years.* Henley recently wrapped an 18-city US/Canadian tour and will kick off her summer tour with Eric Hutchinson on July 22nd. (For tour information visit www.tesshenley.com).
*Independent Music Awards (Best R&B Song for Boy In The Window, Best Pop Song for Daydreaming), the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, Show Me The Music Songwriting Contest (Grand Prize for Who Are You), and Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter III Grand Prize Winner for GoingBack.