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Independent Insight

When you listen to the lyrics on Terri Hendrix's ninth album, The Spiritual Kind, you'll find pearls of wisdom about living life with determination and spirit. Songs speak of having patience and owning the blueprint to build your own universe. It's a philosophy Hendrix has followed as an independent artist.

Parallels abound between Hendrix's lyrics and her life story. She sings in "Acre of Land":

I've been able to stand on my own acre of land.
And when the wind blows me away
I've been able to stay.

Hendrix stands on her own through her record label, Wilory Records. She says owning her own music and masters is the secret of her longevity.

Hendrix's youth was spent in Texas, where she still resides. She received a classical music and voice scholarship to Hardin-Simmons University, but later transferred to Texas State University. Life took a turn when she was employed by the late fingerpicker Marion Williamson, who taught Hendrix the guitar in exchange for goat-milking help.

With encouragement from Williamson, Hendrix made demo tapes and began booking gigs in the Texas hill country in 1991. She released her first album, Two Dollar Shoes, in 1996. Hendrix says her latest, The Spiritual Kind, is "a folk record, more stripped-down and acoustic."

Hendrix' albums have been produced by Lloyd Maines, a legendary steel guitarist who has been a producer for more than 20 years. Maines is the father of Dixie Chick Natalie, and produced the Dixie Chicks' Grammy-award-winning album Home.

Hendrix and Maines perform as a duo. Hendrix writes the songs, but they work on some together. They each sing and play the guitar, among other instruments.

"I hired him to produce Wilory Farm in 1997. He became friends. We have a lot in common with the way we work. We both love music and don't get tired of striving to be better musicians."

In that vein, Hendrix's music has evolved.

"I'm starting to write songs that I want to write. I'm more able to write from experience. When I was younger, I was more worried about being able to do it. Now I am able to do my purpose better as an artist, because I have more years under my belt."

Life experience has served Hendrix well and shows in her lyrics. In the spoken-word piece "If I Had a Daughter," Hendrix weaves sage advice with a sweet country sound, useful for all mothers and mothers-to-be. If I had a daughter, I'd teach her how to face life and its peaks and valleys with grit, modesty, hope, compassion and love. I'd want her to accept herself. I'd want her to watch the stars instead of her weight, love her body, feed her soul, dance with her curves, see those blue veins as a masterpiece, howl at the moon instead of her hair, and to live inside out. Hendrix says she strives to be a "spiritual kind" and wants to leave the world better than it was when she came into it. Spirituality to Hendrix is "living life in a way to brings joy to others and using faith to be a positive force in the world."

She tackles the essence of spirituality with great insight in "The Spiritual Kind," with the knowledge that in the end, religious labels are not important.

I'm a little bit Catholic and a little bit Jew.
I'm a little bit Baptist and Episcopal too.
Some may call what I say blasphemy.
I'm the spiritual kind it makes no difference to me.

One issue that Hendrix is not indifferent to is immigration. In her home state of Texas, she has seen both employers and workers negatively affected by the situation. She sings Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty" in homage to the hard workers in the fields, seeking to bring to light the fact that the personal perspective of the immigration issue is being skirted. She thinks that Guthrie's songs would bring a needed dose of realism to today's politicians.

Politics aside, Hendrix sees a lot of beauty in the world as she travels around the country, performing 200-plus shows a year.

"Getting to play music is an honor. Getting to communicate through music is an honor. ... I am so appreciative of the lengths people go to be there. They will drive through snow and cross mountain paths to see folk music."

Hendrix says her 40th birthday is approaching next month, and she isn't letting the milestone slow her down.

"I feel great. I am ready to capitalize on the gifts I've been given and the ability to play music. ... There's always joy to be found."

Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines perform at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, at ZUZI's Theater in the Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the door. Visit rhythmandroots.org or call 440-4455 for information. For more information on Terri Hendrix, visit her Web site.

More by Irene Messina

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