ALL proceeds from "Live From Wilory Farm" online concerts help Terri Hendrix maintain and sustain Wilory Farm Center for the Creative Arts!
Wilory Farm is the home base for all things OYOU
Own Your Own Universe (OYOU) is a 501 C3 non-profit organization based out of San Marcos and Martindale, Texas. It is our mission to make the arts accessible to everyone, and particularly to empower and transform lives by connecting the mind, body, and spirit through music and the creative arts.
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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. And for most of that time, going back to somewhere between my first open-mic performance and my last job waiting tables not too long after, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to make a living doing it. 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 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.”
In the summer of 2017, I purchased a plot of land in Martindale, Texas, and gave it a name: “Wilory Farm.” It was the same name I’d given my second album way back in 1998, in tribute to the original Wilory Farm owned by an amazing teacher, musician, and friend named Marion Williamson. It was Marion who literally taught me how to “own my own universe.” In exchange, I helped milk her goats. My favorite goat of Marion’s was named Peggy Lee, after the singer. She was stubborn, kind of like me. Years later, I made Peggy the mascot of my own little record label. The one I launched in 1996 with my debut album, Two Dollar Shoes, after three different “major” labels all sent me rejection letters. Twenty-four years later, all three of those other labels have long since gone out of business, but I’m still here, with 18 albums to my name and I own the masters to every single one of them. And in case you were wondering or didn’t already know, yes, I named my record label Wilory, too.
Every leg of my long journey as an independent recording artist has a story, and every one of those 18 records has a story, too (www.terrihendrix.com). I’m now long past those days when I launched my career by way of playing four-hour gigs anywhere someone would let me put out a tip jar. I’m also decades past the age I was when I was told by an agent way back when that I was alreadypast the age I would have needed to “made it” by in order to “make it” in the music business. And I’m not gonna lie: As much as I love what I do, this has never been an easy gig. Over the course of the two-and-a-half decades, I’ve seen the music industry turned virtually inside out and upside down. For 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. The digital download era took a bite out of that, but owning all of my publishing and master recordings allowed me to keep my footing. Then along came streaming, and that flat changed everything. Trust me, as an insatiable music fan myself, I’ve definitely streamed my share (while still buying almost everything I find that I like!) But it’s all but completely wiped out my own income “stream” from all of the albums I’ve made myself. And yet, stubborn as a goat, I keep on making more. In October 2019, I released two of them — Talk to a Human and Who Is Ann?, parts 5.3 and 5.4 of a sprawling, thematically linked five-part project I call, well, “Project 5.” Parts 5.1 and 5.2, the albums Love You Strong and The Slaughterhouse Sessions, both came out in 2016, and part 5.5 — a memoir called The Girl with the Exploding Brain that I’ve actually been working on since 2003 — will be out later this year.
To call “Project 5” one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever taken on as an artist would be an understatement. But as busy as I remain writing and recording and performing as much as I can, for the better part of the last decade I’ve invested just as much if not even more time and passion 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.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy in my early 20s, and 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, 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 both in and around its central Texas headquarters and online. It takes a lot of work — and I mean teamwork, from the OYOU’s board of directors to our amazing volunteers — to plan and run these programs, but I can honestly say that it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life. And we’ve really only just begun — which brings us back to Wilory Farm.
Although the OYOU was up and running on a primarily mobile basis for its first several years, the goal from the get-go was to find a permanent building — ideally on a piece of land with room enough to hold workshops, concerts, and camp/retreat activities under an open sky. I looked and looked for the right property. But nothing fit the OYOU’s meager budget. The overhead was just going to be so high, that the OYOU would always be in fundraising mode. Our focus needs to be on what we do and not what we have to bring in via donations to thrive.
So when I happened upon what I knew was the perfect piece of property — 12 beautiful acres in Martindale, Texas, straddling both Hays and Guadalupe County — I did exactly what you might expect a stubborn DIY goat would do: I sold my house in San Marcos, cashed in my equity, took out a loan, and bought it all myself. But I certainly didn’t buy it just for myself. A fixer-upper on the property became the OYOU’s home office, with just enough space in the main room to begin hosting workshops within weeks of me signing the title papers. For the past two years I’ve personally funded building repairs, overhauls, and clearing the property of mesquite, cactus, and debris. Through blood, sweat, and more than a few tears, I’ve transformed this place while simultaneously criss-crossing the country on tour. And from the porch of that building, you can see the old barn which I’ve set my sites on to renovate and turn into a fully handicapped-accessible arts center that the OYOU can call home.
And the best part of all? Because I’m the landowner, the OYOU will never be charged a dime for rent, utilities, building and land maintenance, or property taxes. That means every dollar donated directly to the OYOU, either at events or through the non-profit’s website (www.ownyourownuniverse.org), will go directly to funding OYOU programming — including paying all of our workshop teachers and every artist booked for festivals and concert series.
Of course, someone still has to pay to maintain this place, continue to fix it up, and get the barn renovated. And that person is me. Both the OYOU nonprofit workshops, and the events I personally host through Wilory Records, have long since outgrown our current space. In short, we need a bigger building so we can accommodate more people. Continuing to turn this place into a mini wildlife preserve along with keeping our little therapeutic “petting zoo” — two rescue dogs, three goats, and a donkey named Niem — fed and healthy, is going to take additional Farmhands. And that’s where you come in.
In a nutshell, I bought Wilory Farm to sustain the OYOU, but my hope is that Wilory Farm can also sustain me, too — at least just enough to keep the whole operation sustainable. Running a record label and managing my own music career — even through the leanest of times — is one thing. But in order to keep building and growing Wilory Farm, both for my own use and especially to provide the OYOU the home and land it deserves without tapping into the non-profit’s other donations ... well, for that I could really use your help. I’m willing to tun over my life’s work, and through Patreon, happily pay with my art — for all the Wilory “Farmhands” I can get. And if you’ve read this far, I especially hope that YOU will be inspired by my journey to this point, and join me on the next chapter of this amazing adventure. Together, we can get that barn renovated and open for all ages, and in particular to inspire the next generation of artists for years to come.