Tess Henley: Music Good for the Soul

I have been extremely busy the past two weeks! Since I started the Weekly Music Commentary and later the Florida Music Letter, readership has steadily increased every month. Also increasing are the submissions of music from around the world. Please understand I am not complaining by any means. I love receiving new music and I listen to everything I receive and I try to send comments although lately that has been difficult. However, I listen to all the music because I feel that the artist spent time and effort producing it and I truly respect their work. Yes, keep sending me your material or e-mail me about any new artist or new music you come across.  Last week I heard a song that made me stop and play it again several times. It was from a young singer/songwriter from the Pacific Northwest named Tess Henley. Some of you reading this weeks’ commentary may be familiar with her work, and some of you may be hearing her name for the first time.  After I heard one song, I did what I normally do with any relatively new artist: I listened to as much material as I could find. Then, I did a little research to find out about Tess Henley. What did I find? Tess Henley is more than a singer/songwriter, she is an accomplished musician. Like many musicians she showed talent as a child and her parents continued to help her develop and learn to play and appreciate music. Her brother, Carson Henley, also is a talented singer/songwriter. An exceptional keyboard player, Tess Henley is a delight to hear sing as well as play. As I listened to more songs I noticed that she used live instruments instead of the predominant electronic synthesizers utilized in popular music today.  As a child she listened to James Taylor, The Beatles, Earth Wind & Fire and the music of Motown, which molded her musical taste for the soul music she would later produce and perform. My mind kept going back to the instrumentation; that use of live horns, drums and more. I started to think back to a time right after I graduated college and started to work professionally. The late 1980’s was a time when electronics were a major part of just about all recordings, including much of the music I arranged and/or produced. Many found the fact that I worked almost exclusively with electronic instruments interesting since I was a trumpet player. Nevertheless, at the time this was the trend and the cost-effective way to complete projects. Tess Henley’s decision to work and record with a “live” band may have implications on music education in the future. Hopefully, more students will choose to play instruments and then have avenues of performance upon graduation. Tess Henley’s success will most definitely pave the road for similar musicians to perform and record music. Please, make sure and download some of Tess Henley’s music as I did. I’m sure you will enjoy her music. I hope I get an opportunity to hear her perform live with her band one day soon.

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