Tess Henley Wins Guitar Center’s 3rd Annual Singer-Songwriter Program

tess henley guitar center
Congratulations to Tess Henley, the winner of Guitar Center’s Third Annual Singer-Songwriter Program. The soulful, piano-playing prodigy from Kent, Washington has been working on her music since the age of three, and received top honors in the International Song Competition in 2011.

Videos by American Songwriter

Henley beat out 10,000 other entrants with her performance of the song “Going Back,” and was awarded the top prize by legendary producer Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan). As part of her prize package, she’s earned a feature in American Songwriter, and the opportunity to record a 4-song EP with Was. Check out the full details below.

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Los Angeles, CA (March 5, 2014): Guitar Center is thrilled to announce Kent, WA native Tess Henley as the winner of the third annual Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter artist discovery program. Developed by the music retailer to provide emerging independent musicians a platform to expose their music to the world, Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter has quickly become the premier platform for aspiring songwriters to achieve the opportunities and exposure necessary to attain a successful career in music.

Out of nearly 10,000 entries this year, ten finalists were hand-selected by Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was to perform live at the grand finals Saturday, March 1st. Hosted by indie-darling Meiko, the finals took place at Hollywood’s Hotel Café. Following an opening performance by past Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter winners Josh Doyle and Jeff Campbell, each of the finalists took to the stage. The intimate event closed with an impressive performance by emerging musician Meg Meyers, giving Was a chance to deliberate before ultimately naming Tess Henley the winner. As the winner of Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter 3, Henley will receive a multifaceted career-boosting package including the opportunity to record a four-song EP with Was, receive digital distribution through TuneCore, recording time at Converse Rubber Tracks Studio, pocket $25,000 cash, take home new gear, musical equipment, and more.

Watch Tess Henley’s winning performance here.

As Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter 3 Winner, Tess Henley Will Receive:
A 4-song E.P. with Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was
$25,000 Cash
New gear and musical equipment
A feature on the award-winning podcast series: At: Guitar Center with Nic Harcourt
Recording time at the Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in New York
Worldwide digital music and publishing administration from TuneCore
Feature story in American Songwriter magazine

“I loved everything about this competition up until choosing a winner, which was absolutely agonizing, because all ten finalists impressed me. In the end, I chose Tess because she had a true voice and a strong sense of who she is. Not only that, but when I listened to her perform, I could envision the complete record we would make together. She has a true gift,” said Don Was.

“As an independent musician, this is a prayer answered. To be able to work in the studio with someone as talented as Don Was, I can’t even fathom. I know I’ll be in good hands. It is a blessing that competitions like this exist, and I can’t think of any other company that puts so much effort into supporting singer-songwriters,” said Tess Henley.

About Guitar Center
Guitar Center is the world’s largest retailer of guitars, amplifiers, drums, keyboards and pro-audio and recording equipment, with more than 257 stores across the U.S. In addition, the Music & Arts division operates more than 100 stores specializing in band instruments for sale and rental, serving teachers, band directors, college professors and students since 1984. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Guitar Center’s historic first-steps to helping people make music. With an unrivaled in-store experience and passionate commitment to making gear easy-to-buy, Guitar Center is all about enabling musicians and non-musicians alike to experience the indescribable joy that comes from playing an instrument. All we sell is the greatest feeling on earth. For more information about Guitar Center, click here.

About Don Was
Don Was is a man of many talents — musician, producer, composer, filmmaker, director, and even record company president. As a musician, Don founded the influential band, Was (Not Was).  He continues to play bass on records and at various events such as the Detroit All Star Revue. As a producer, Don’s work has sold over 120 million albums worldwide.  His work is so highly regarded that he’s been asked by some of the most influential artists of the past several decades to make records for them:  The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt and Roy Orbison. Don has taken home numerous awards, including a Grammy for Producer of the Year, a BAFTA for Best Original Score, and an Emmy Nomination for his documentary on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. In January of 2012, Don was named president of Blue Note Records.  At the same time, he continues to produce albums including “My True Story” for Aaron Neville (co-produced with Keith Richards) and “Paradise Valley,” the latest release from John Mayer.

About Tess Henley
Tess Henley began training under the Suzuki Method for piano at age three and by age five was dissecting harmonies that even her mother – a singer by trade – found difficult. She’s honed her live skills opening for folks like Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton and playing her own solo shows while also building her profile as a songwriter. Henley’s single “Boy In The Window” from her 2010 EP, The Appetizer, earned a 2011 Independent Music Award for Best R&B Song, won the 2011 International Song Competition for SoulTracks.com (the largest soul site in America), was awarded top 3 honors in the prestigious John Lennon 2011 International Songwriting Competition and was featured on the soundtrack for 2012’s Hello I Must Be Going starring Blythe Danner. After Dice Raw from The Roots heard her music, he took an immediate interest in the young talent, taking Tess under his wing. He brought her to Philadelphia – the epicenter of a soul sound all its own – and introduced her to fellow-producer Khari Mateen (The Roots, Jill Scott, J*DaVeY). Dice and Khari signed on to produce Tess’s debut album High Heels & Sneakers (released May 2013). The album was recorded at legendary arranger Larry Gold’s “The Studio” over the course of a year and features 14 new songs, including the first singles Daydreaming (2013 “People’s Choice” Independent Music Award) and From The Get Go. Learn more about Tess Henley here.


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