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For more than 31 years musician Terri Hendrix has been performing and to date has nearly 20 records released on her label according to her website. She earned a Grammy of the Chicks’ song “Lil’ Jack Slade” in 2002, and has garnered three generations of fans from coast to coast and overseas, and also run workshops from the Texas Gulf Coast to the Berklee College of Music. Hendrix has forged new paths, such as founding a flourishing 501 C3 non-profit music community center, the OYOU (which stands for "Own Your Own Universe"). And she has done this with Texas grit and a matching smile.

Interview Hendrix 1
Says Hendrix, “My work doesn’t have a genre,” she acknowledges. “It has a mission, and that mission is resilience, rebounding, and courage.” She has been able to roam across the sprawl of her musical releases in Project 5, and she approached each “chapter” as a means to examine the central themes from a distinctly different musical and emotional angle. Hendrix has released a new album, Pilgrim’s Progress Project 5.5, which features cover songs that have great verve and vitality. In this interview Hendrix talks about the new release and her love of life.

Jupiter Index: This is your first record of cover songs, but what was your main inspiration while in the studio for Pilgrim's Process 5.5?

Terri Hendrix: I wanted to sing these songs to the best of my ability. I was diagnosed with Essential Vocal Tremor and Spasmodic Dysphonia. I had just wrapped up a year of medical testing and all types of vocal therapy. I wanted to wrap up Project 5, and my own songs were not done. That’s why this is a cover album. But honestly, these songs wrap up Project 5 way better than anything I feel I could have written right now. My main inspiration in recording them, was to be able to sing them Asia I had written them myself. To interpret them my own way - vocal issues and all.

JI: Talk about what drew you to these cover songs?

TH: Each cover tune on “Pilgrim’s Progress” is one I have pretty much lived with for years and years. Most of these tunes I’ve played live over the past several years. In the case of “Little Bird” and “The Piney Rose,” I have loved those songs and therefore listened to them on repeat for a long time. I felt like they were in my DNA. So I recorded them. I can’t record a song - my tune or a cover tune - unless I have a personal connection to it.

JI: Was there a song that was a little bit more demanding to sing and play?

TH: I had a rough time singing and playing “Fisherman’s Blues.” We have played that song as a band for several years. But my voice is not what it was. It is a new voice. I am learning how to sing in spite of my diagnosis. But it was hard to hear the notes in my head I used to sing and then have to alter the notes as I sang to be able to hit the notes I could.

JI: Talk about your nonprofit Own Your Own Universe and how it came about for you?

TH: I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of twenty-one. Music, writing, and the creative arts helped her to thrive personally and professionally as a musician in spite of my own challenges with my health. Through personal experience, I discovered that my life’s passion was to introduce others to a wide spectrum of the arts, providing a path and the tools to live one's best life regardless of difficult circumstances, experiences or limitations. It started as an idea about creating a space where anyone; regardless of finances, social and or mobility issues, age or gender, can embrace and enjoy the creative arts without fear of bias or discrimination.

In 2012 the OYOU became “Own Your Own Universe” and legally became a 501 C3 nonprofit. The OYOU hosts a variety of free and ticketed events and workshops. Our mission also serves more than just the participants at our events and programs. At OYOU we hire artists and musicians to lead workshops or perform at our community concerts; providing them with additional income and more importantly a format in which to inspire and teach. We hire and pay professional musicians and artists to lead our workshops. By providing a modest stipend, we are able to give back to the artist community by providing a means in which to support it.

Some of our workshop leaders have been affected by neurological conditions, cancer, depression, and other health challenges. They have found a role in mentoring students with similar health conditions and inspiring others to rise above their own personal challenges so that they, too, can embrace and enjoy a higher quality of life. In addition, the OYOU provides scholarships for every program offered, allowing those who would otherwise be unable to afford tuition to attend and learn. Scholarships are offered based on financial need and for teachers, veterans, special needs students, and patients who are suffering from medical conditions.

The OYOU also has scholarships available for our children's music camp and kid's club, so that children in need can attend for free. The OYOU creates a welcoming, non-judgmental backdrop that celebrates diversity through the creative arts. Our events help fill a void for arts based education that is increasingly absent in budget-strapped public schools. Our events also offer lifelong learning opportunities for adults and senior citizens. In order to serve our mission to the fullest extent, OYOU is continuing to expand programming in our community, and at our venue on Wilory Farm, to positively impact as many lives as possible in Central Texas.

JI: Can you say what a typical day is like for you?

TH: My days vary from day to day. I wake up around 7:30. I work really hard. It is like working three full time jobs to pull things off these days. I have the job of the record label, the job of the OYOU, and then the job of creating music and content for a viable future in this seemingly never ending pandemic world. I am lucky to work for myself, but it is challenging. That said, I am fortunate to have an active fanbase that supports what I do and why I do it. They have been very supportive for almost three decades now. So for sure, I am not complaining.

JI: What music is in your CD player now?

TH: I have been listening to Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore” now for months and months now. I also listen to a variety of music. Everything from rap to classical.

JI: Would you like to say anything more about your music or to your fans?

TH: I feel really fortunate to get to make music for my living. I feel lucky that I have had the opportunity to live a dream in spite of challenges I have with my health. I’s my hope I can continue to live this dream and hopefully tour a little, too, again. I love to play music and I truly love to share my love of music with others on the road. Lifting spirits or creating atmospheres that are conducive to spreading joy is what makes me happy. I am thankful and filled with gratitude towards my fanbase.

by G.M. Burns