Kentlake grad wins singer-songwriter competition

Kent musician and Kentlake grad Tess Henley has been named the winner of the third annual Guitar Center's Singer-Songwriter competition.

As the winner, Henley will have the opportunity to record a four-song EP with Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was. She also will receive digital distribution through TuneCore, recording time at Converse Rubber Tracks Studios, pocket $25,000 cash and take home new musical equipment.

Henley, 26, is a Kentlake High School graduate.

Part of a musical family, Tess' brother Carson Henley competed in the competition last year and – even after falling short in the final round – had such a great experience that he encouraged his sister to give it go.

Henley – out of nearly 10,000 entries and 10 finalists selected to perform live in the grand finals at Hollywood’s Hotel Café on March 1 – was the one who most impressed the judge, Was.

Was has worked with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John, John Mayer and more.

Henley began training under the Suzuki Method for piano at age 3 and by 5 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 (the largest soul site in America), was awarded top-three 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 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 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 Henley, visit

Watch Tess’ winning performance on youtube.



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