Photo of Niem the Donkey: By Kara Riojas
My name is Terri Hendrix. I’m an Aquarius, born in San Antonio, Texas, and — apart
from maybe the seven or eight years before I “stole” my older sister Tammi’s guitar out from under her bed — I’ve been playing, singing, and writing music my entire life. I’ve been fortunate
enough to be able to make a living doing it since around 1990. Through lean times and high times and all kinds of times in between, my childhood love of writing and performing my own songs (in
part because I could almost never remember the words to other people’s songs) has sustained me financially, emotionally, and even physically. It’s taken me all over the country and overseas,
introduced me to thousands of friendly faces (and friends!), and ultimately allowed me to “own my own universe.”
I released my debut album, Two Dollar Shoes, way back in 1996. After three different “major” labels sent me rejection letters, I decided to just put the album out myself. It’s now 25 years later, and all three of those other labels have long since gone out of business, but I’m still here, with 20 albums to my name and I own the masters to every single one of them.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy in my early 20s, meaning I’ve lived with and managed a seizure disorder my entire career. Much more recently — in 2020 — I was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia and an essential vocal tremor. With intensive vocal therapy and an arsenal of breathing techniques, some dating back to my classical music training in high school and college, I am still able to talk, sing, perform, and even record. But I don’t take any of it for granted. What’s more, I also made my mind up a long time ago to not just take a proactive stance against any adversity I face health wise, but to do everything in my power to turn it all into a positive. Which is why I’ve invested so much time and passion over the last decade into building something that in the big picture is more important to me than my own music career. A few years back, I launched a 501 C3 non-profit called the OYOU, as in “Own Your Own Universe.” Its mission: To make the arts accessible to everyone, regardless of age, gender, income, or physical mobility, and to empower and transform lives by connecting the mind, body, and spirit through music and creative arts.
As hard as it’s been at times to do what I do while living with a seizure disorder, I believe and know for a fact that playing music, as much as if not more so than any medication, is what has allowed me to actually live with that condition. I’ve also witnessed firsthand how creating, sharing, and experiencing art can have a profoundly positive impact on others living with all kinds of different physical, neurological, emotional, and social challenges.
Since its launch back in 2012, the OYOU has hosted countless workshops, retreats, children’s music camps, concert series, support groups, monthly song circles, and myriad other events at various locations throughout Central Texas — and, since 2017, on the grounds of Wilory Farm, the OYOU’s official headquarters in Martindale. I actually purchased the property — 12 acres straddling both Hays and Guadalupe County — myself, after selling my own longtime home in nearby San Marcos, cashing in my equity, and taking out a loan. I did this so that the OYOU could have a permanent base of operations and plenty of room to grow without ever being charged a dime for rent, utilities, or property taxes. Low overhead is crucial to the longevity of a nonprofit. In addition, the green space serves as a vital backdrop to keeping aspiring artists of all ages inspired and engaged.
For the record (pun intended), “Wilory Farm” was also the name of my second album, released in 1998. And in case you were wondering or didn’t already know, yes, I named my record label Wilory, too. It’s all in tribute to a late friend of mine, a wonderful teacher, musician, and philanthropist named Marion Williamson. Marion, who was the owner of the original Wilory Farm, took me under her wing when I was in my early 20s and just beginning to find my calling as a performing songwriter. And in exchange for me helping her milk her goats, it was Marion who literally taught me how to “own my own universe.”
As big and positive an impact that she had on me, though, Marion wasn’t alone. Because the fact is, a lot of people have helped me on my journey every step of the way. My first album was financed by way of personal loans from a handful of close friends, loans that I was able to pay back with interest within just a few months after the record came out. And when a whole bunch of those CDs needed assembling the day of my official CD release show at Gruene Hall, friends stepped up like pros. It was also with the help of friends that I was able to start mailing list (back before email!), and because of that mailing list, for years and years I was able to cover the expenses for every new album I made through CD pre-sales on my website’s e-commerce store alone. You could say I was “crowd funding” and running "Wilory FarmHands" long before crowd funding even became a thing. So as proud as I am to have been an independent artist my entire career, believe me when I say this has never been a one-woman show. Just like the OYOU, which I can’t even imagine existing without the help of our volunteers, teachers, and a board of directors as passionate about the mission as I am, my music career was built on — and still runs on — teamwork.
I still wake up every morning with a sense of purpose — call it a mission — to use my music and life's work to do good in the world. And I do it because I still can, thanks in large part, as always, to my invaluable team of supporters and friends. In other words, thanks to YOU my Wilory FarmHands.
A few years back, I was honored to have my archives accepted into the care of the esteemed Witliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos. And with the Witliff’s help, I can now share those newly digitized archives with you here. I’m talking literally 30 years worth of live recordings from every stage of my career, along with studio outtakes, radio sessions, demo tapes, and even video. And of course I’ll be sharing lots of brand new exclusive content here, too. In addition, Wilory FarmHands will have first hand updates and posts on happenings here at Wilory Farm or with my music and writing.
Because of my health, I will never be able to tour like I once did. I accept this. Live and in person shows will be limited. But this page will serve as a conduit between me and my fanbase all over the world. Honestly, the music business has changed — especially with streaming taking over record sales. But I've changed, too. I'm ready for the change. I'm ready to be the change. I'll play a few select shows a year, but through this page, I'm certain I can maintain an even healthier relationship with my fanbase and perhaps even garner new fans for years to come.
Every dollar collected through this site not only enables me to continue to have a career in the arts, but it also helps pay for ongoing upkeep and renovation projects here at Wilory Farm. By working and contributing together as Wilory FarmHands, we can all play a role in helping me build Wilory Farm Center for the Creative Arts inspiring generations of new artists for years to come.
I also wanted to add, that because I personally purchased what has become Wilory Farm Center for the Creative Arts, I have intentionally kept it separate from all finances having to do with the OYOU. No funds from this Patreon page or "Live from Wilory Farm" are used on the 501 C3 nonprofit, "Own Your Own Universe (OYOU). Therefore, contributions from this page are not tax deductible. Simply put, this page funds me personally and enables me to continue with my life's work and ongoing mission with my music. That mission, is to use my music to create good in this world. Every single day.
Thank you for your support!
I remain humbled and grateful!
Patreon's have behind the scenes exclusive content on happenings in the studio, at Wilory Farm, or new material.
Patreon's will periodically receive discounts on new merchandise available in our online store.