Ali Henderson: Southern heart, alt-rock roots
Gaffney’s got a lot!
To grow up in a small town in South Carolina does not equate to a boring life, as demonstrated by the singer-songwriter-magical being that is Ali Henderson. With a voice as powerful as the thunderous storms that have graced the South these last few weeks, and gut-wrenching lyrics to match, Henderson is well on her way to claiming a spot in the hearts of the sensitive, the love-stricken, and the overall people-who-like-good-music mass. That’s a represented group, right?
Southern culture is often synonymous with sweet tea, warm nights, and Country music, so it’s quite astounding that pop-rock artist like Henderson emerged from the quaint town of Gaffney as an alt-rocker. Growing up in the slightly larger town of Fort Mill, SC, I have vivid memories of driving through Gaffney and seeing nothing. Green pastures, a large, oddly-shaped bright red and yellow fireworks store, and some bridges here and there, and then it was onto the next town. Even now, I couldn’t tell you what kind of music is cultivated in Gaffney other than Henderson’s soulful, accessible tunes. Lucky for her, Henderson looks at her youth as a time of self-exploration and is thankful for the adversity she faced.
“I never wrote or performed country music, so there was a piece of me that was always afraid nobody from my hometown would like the music I was writing,” said Henderson. “But I released my first EP and the support of my hometown was incredible. To have a city that backs you, and believes in you is something that is rare. I’m a lucky girl.”
Henderson’s resume still has me wondering how she isn’t already a household name, or at least an underground name among music snobs and the simply curious alike. Though her humble start was sparked at church at the age of five, Henderson quickly found the next step in her career when she earned a one-way ticket to Hollywood thanks to a little show called American Idol. Yeah, that’s right. Henderson lived it up in CA, impressing the likes of Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez while honing her craft and setting the stage for her future, on both a personal and professional level.
“After [American Idol], I gained a lot of confidence,” recalled Henderson. “I did my hair the way I had always wanted (but was always afraid to), and I started writing music from a real perspective instead of what I thought people would want to hear. Idol gave my music (and me as an overall person) the push that I needed to be 100% Ali.”
While it’s hard for me to believe that Hollywood’s got giant peach water towers and brown picket fences for miles lining their roads, I find it plausible that Henderson climbed the industry ladder on her own merit, authentic lyrics and catchy hooks in tow.
Being a fan of heart-driven music myself, Henderson’s music settled into my bones on impact.
“I Wrote This On A Plane” not only showcases Henderson’s ability to sing the hell out of a song, it sheds light on her ability to connect with listeners in more than one way. While the campfire ballad “Desert Heart” volunteers to handle her lover’s broken heart and place the pieces “in the stars,” “I Wrote This On A Plane” is a conversational ode to the one she loves, so much so that she had to manifest her love 30,000+ feet in the air.
“Old Tee Shirt” is most noticeably Henderson’s best song; though not to diminish the sheer magic of the others. Gutsy lyrics aside, the instrumentation of the song sheds light on Henderson’s future and the artist she has the potential of becoming. With a full band, a reggae beat, and full-bodied harmonies, Henderson could paint the scene with her colorful music, starting with “Old Tee Shirt.”
Listening through her bluesy, acoustic pop melodies (some genres that normally aren’t paired together but somehow work for Henderson), you’ll find yourself sighing woefully and wondering, “but what’s next for Ali Henderson?”
“Well, I am writing music every day,” assured the songwriter. “In 2017 I plan to record and release some music so make sure you follow along on my Spotify/Apple Music! I am a huge believer of Artist/Fan interaction, so please reach out to me… let me know what you’re feeling, tell me a story. I love to write about people!”
Hear that? Reach out! Get in touch! Keep up with the bright-haired, alt-queen and jump on that bandwagon because it won’t be long before her Southern roots grow outward.
All images via Ali Henderson’s Facebook