With A New Non-Profit, Terri Hendrix Owns Her Own Universe
For over fifteen years, San Marcos-based singer and songwriter Terri Hendrix has been creating music on her own terms, and encouraging others to “own your own universe,” to borrow a line from one of her signature tunes, “Wallet.” Hendrix, originally from San Antonio, has found success as a true DIY artist, controlling all of the master tapes for her music, recording on her terms, and personally responding to fans that sign up for her email list, which she also maintains in-house.
“I’m self-employed and I can’t complain about it,” Hendrix says. “I would rather pay [a small staff]. Publicity, radio promotion, all of that gets real expensive, real quick. And if I’m going to spend that money, it has to make sense.”
Hendrix’s latest venture is the Own Your Own Universe non-profit, a project years in the making, and with still a ways to go. After being granted official 501(c)3 status by the IRS earlier this year, Hendrix is ready to start the fundraising process to build a community arts center in Hays County that caters to all types of patrons, from autistic kids that find music as a way to express themselves, to cancer patients that can benefit from music therapy, to underprivleged youth. “San Marcos is 58% poverty,” she points out.
Hendrix says that she sees her future with the Own Your Own Universe center, not traversing the globe. “We have played all over the world,” she explains. “I miss the road, and meeting new people. But I have to look at logistics. My time on this earth is going to be best served at the arts center.”
“I’m never going to be able to tour like I was [doing],” she continues. “I do have epilepsy...and the best way for me to treat it is lots of rest and nutrition, which is very hard to get on the road. So by focusing my energy on the OYOU, and playing perhaps more regionally, people can see first-hand what I’m doing [locally].”
Terri Hendrix and her musical partner Lloyd Maines will be performing with their band at Sam’s Burger Joint on Saturday, June 22. It’s a venue that longtime San Antonians may remember as Billy Blues. When she was just starting out, Hendrix used to play open-mic gigs there. What’s it like to keep walking out on that same stage, 20 years later? “I feel lucky...that I could remain self employed doing something I love,” she says. “I honestly feel like I can make a difference when I step onto that stage at Sam’s. I know a woman who has cancer, and she sees so many of our shows. When I see her in the audience, I think ‘wow, I’m making a difference in her life.’ I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to play, I feel lucky to get booked, and I feel lucky to play with the people I play with.”
Hendrix and Maines performed three songs during our interview. You can hear all three selections at the bottom of this page. In the extended interview linked above, Hendrix and Maines talk about the Own Your Own Universe project, the re-release of "The Art of Removing Wallpaper," the business of being a DIY musician, and future musical projects.
On re-recording and releasing a new edition of her 2004 album, “The Art of Removing Wallpaper”:
Terri Hendrix: There were a few lyrics that always bothered me. Naturally, I have somewhat of a hoarse voice. But during that time [in 2004], the medications that I was taking [for epilepsy] were extremely drying on what’s called the vocal folds, and I could never get enough moisture in there. So anything that [sounded] like that, I went ahead and fixed it. If there was a line there that I felt wasn’t exactly precise, I fixed it.
Lloyd Maines: The only thing that we changed structurally was the very last song [on the album], a song called “Hey Now.” After living with it for years, the arrangement really grated on us. We thought it was good at the time, but it sounded a little too “Hee Haw” for Terri’s style, so we went back and rearranged it digitally. She changed some lyrics, and we took out a lot of the vocal answers that sounded like John Wayne in ‘The Green Berets.’ It sounded like a good idea at the time, but it just didn’t wear well.
On Terri's songwriting, and performing live:
Lloyd Maines: Her music is not easy. It sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s pretty demanding. We do a lot of gigs as a duo, so to sound good and full, we really work on our inversions and chords, using capos… she’ll play one position [on the guitar] and I’ll play another, just to broaden the sound out…That takes some work. It made me woodshed, knowing that I couldn’t go back and hit the rewind button.
On Terri’s abandoned jazz album
Lloyd Maines: Terri’s voice is designed to be a jazz singer. She can sing Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. That style, she just nails. I still think that [album] is on the horizon.
Terri Hendrix: We’ve been working in the studio on planning the next record, and I do hope perhaps some jazz-type songs will end up on what we’re working on now. I really wanted to do it [in 2010]. But I ended up buying a 12-string guitar and getting really inspired by tuning it into an alternate tuning, and then I wrote “Hand Me Down Blues,” and then “Einstein’s Brain” happened after that...and then the songs just started to fall into place, and it didn’t feel right to do the jazz record. Now I kind of wish we would have withheld the three jazz songs [that made it onto “Cry Till You Laugh”] for a jazz record. But I have a really hard time sticking to one genre! So I decided let’s do what we’ve always done, and make it a mix.
Listen to and download songs recorded in our studios:
Thanks to TPR Operations Coordinator Deric Garza for recording and engineering the music for this feature.