Music Tea w/ Tara Hendricks

Now, that Philly Mixtape has officially got into the 2016 groove, there’s nothing left to do but to have a good old-fashioned music tea. 

Armed with a shy, sweet demeanor and that voice, singer/songwriter Tara Hendricks has been an incredible vocal force to be reckoned with on the Philly music scene for quite some time now, most recently owning the local stages last year with fiery shows at Milkboy and World Cafe Live. For her next venture, the multi-talented songstress will be using her esteemed voice in a different way when she takes a seat at the judges table for the fifth cycle of Songbird. presented by Josh “where the f#$k does he find these people?” Schonewolf. 

However, the aspiring contestants shouldn’t feel too worried because Ms. Hendricks knows a thing or two about what it’s like be up on that stage as she placed second in season two of the local singing competition just a few years back. Personally speaking, because she’s just so truly delightful, I could have easily spilled with Tara for music days, but we kept it straight to the Songbird point and she broke tea mugs about it all, including about what qualities she’ll be looking for in this season’s contestants, why song choice is oh, so important and exactly what kind of judging prowess she’ll bring to the table sitting alongside reigning Songbird diva, Mr. Cory Wade.

Kicking things off, how are you feeling going into this season of Songbird this time being a judge? I’m excited! I really don’t know what to expect being on that side if things, but I’m excited to not have the pressure of performing and also being able to offer my experience as an insight to other aspiring up-and-coming vocalists. 

How do you think you’ll do as a judge? I think I’ll be good at it, actually. I think I can give constructive criticism well, and I think I’ll  be able to give my eye for detail. I’ll also be able to see things from a bunch of different angles and communicate it in a nice way! I think my judging style will be a little gentle than some of the other judges, but that’s just my nature. In the end, I really wanna help [the contestants] be better. 

What are some of the main qualities in a contestant you’ll personally be looking for? I’ll be interested to see how many of the contestants have a real vocal technique. I’ll think I’ll be able to hear if there’s some training there or if they’re coming from a self taught place. I’m looking for just really “legit” vocal technique and also a unique style and originality. I also look forward to seeing their choices of song material. 

Now, let’s spill about song choice. Would you say that’s the most important part of the competition? Yes, yes, yes!  I don’t think it should be number one, but at the same time, inevitably, it’s ends up being one of the most important things. The number one thing should be how well you sing, but the problem is that it’s so impacted by song choice, that it truly becomes number one. I think that because of my personal experience as a singer, I will do my best to be ultra fair and really listen regardless of your song choice, however like or not, it is going to effect how I hear you. 

Okay, so as much as the competition can be one hell of a ride, there’s going to be those days when that struggle is certainly real. How did you personally get through those trying times during Songbird? It really varied from week-to-week. I remember I used to take things that Eric Jaffe would say to me that would just resonate with me more than the other judges. One of the challenges I had was that I was coming from a very singer place, which worked well for me, however, in other areas I could improve, which was my showmanship and how I worked the stage. That was something I had to work at. Hearing that in a constructive way from someone like Eric, I truly worked on that in the competition. 

What’s next on the agenda for Ms. Tara Hendricks? I’m preparing, I’m in a bit of hibernation mode. But I do have some shows coming up in spring and summer, maybe around April. I’ve also been songwriting and working with other local producers and working hard to finish up my new music project! 

Maybe you’ll debut some new material as a guest performer this season? Josh keeps it all under wraps! I literally don’t think I’ll know anything until 15 minutes before!  I know that past judges have performed during the season, so hopefully I’ll be able to get the chance. It’s really about the judges showing the contestants that they are really true music artists. That’s what it’s really all about. 

For all of Ms. Hendricks’ music tea, groove to her official Facebook page right here.

For all of this season’s Songbird Spillage, tweet your life away right here.




Songbird Spillage/The Finale

“Sing like you already won!”- wonderful words of wisdom from Season 2 winner and judge, Larisa Bunch, to last night’s finalists.

Yes, my loves, Songbird has come to an end, and the finale was everything you would hope and more from such an all-star season. Dan Callahan, Lisa Parks, Brittany Marie, Jesse Braff, Katie Mae, and Keely Sibilia took to the stage to thunderous applause from a huge crowd and all 5 judges. As they were about to begin drawing for their song order, Josh Schonewolf threw in one last twist. And why not? He has been doing it almost weekly this season. Using a “Schonewolf Save” Chali returned to the competition to compete in the finale! The crowd went crazy with the news that such a fierce performer was back and by the thought that the final will be that much longer….it was a 3 hour show folks.

Now, I just want to take a moment and say that every performance last night was just stellar. All the contestants came to win, each on their A-game. There will be no snark or shade this spillage for the simple reason that we had true, well-rounded, professionals on that stage.

Dan Callahan opened with “God Bless the Child” in his signature jazz sound that earned him a record breaking 5 wins this season. Lisa Parks reminded us of the reason for the season with “O Holy Night” beautifully sung in a sparkling green gown. Chali brought the fire and passion back to the stage with “What’s Going On” and Brittany Marie took us right to the Great White Way with “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. Jesse Braff showed us how much fun he could have with “Sunday Morning” while using an instrumental break for an impromptu moment with Season 1 winner, Jo Stones. Katie Mae brought the house down with “Gimme Gimme” and Keely, complete with a band, dazzled with “Hotline Bling” serving up the most fierce pregnant pause prior to a key change I have ever seen!

And now the part we all hate- the 7th and 6th place contestants were revealed.
7th- Jesse Braff
6th- Chali

Before the next knock-out round began, we were all treated to special performances by Season 3 runner-up Tara Hendricks and this season’s most tech and costume savvy performer, Tait Gehman. Wonderful performers who perfectly show that Songbird alum are alive and well and fierce as hell!

Round 2…ding ding ding

Dan Callahan stunned the crowd back to silence with “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and was followed up by another power ballade, “I Have Nothing,” delivered perfectly by Lisa Parks. Brittany Marie and hottie on the guitar, Sean, took us back to the 90’s (well….very late 80’s) with “Black Velvet” and Katie Mae brought all the emotion with “Skyscraper”. Keely closed round 2 with a mega-mix of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Tomorrow” from Annie, and “You Are My Sunshine” which was just a show stopper. Jaws on the floor, misty eyes, life!

De’Soul, Katie Gin, and Brianna Roth provided some much needed entertainment while we all agonized over who the next two to leave the stage were.

5th- Lisa Parks
4th- Brittany Marie

Season 4 runner-up Robert Alexander lightened the growing tension in the room with “Cry Me a River” looking so good with his vest and tie combo and just enough tats showing through. A perfect lead into Season 1 winner Jo Stones. Back at the piano as if it was a flash back to his winning night, Jo sang his iTunes hit “The Letter” to remind us all that winning this competition is a true opportunity to soar to new heights…and boy has he ever!

The final 3, all dressed to kill, took the stage one by one for their last chance at the title. Dan Callahan’s “My Life” was a rousing anthem of strength and passion filled with light choreography, high kicks, and R. Eric Thomas. Katie Mae gave a moving rendition of “I’m Changing” in true powerhouse diva style proving that her voice in unstoppable. Closing out the evening was Keely armed, once again, with her signature guitar, synths, and piano with a truly artistic rendition of “Plane Gold Ring”. These three know how to put on a show and all are deserving of the title…but only one can win.

The votes came in and the audience welcomed the entire Songbird family to the stage of Tabu. Anticipation ran high as Josh Schonewolf approached the stage with an envelope in hand holding the fate of the final 3. “And the winner….of Songbird Season 4 is…”

Keely Sibilia!

What a season this was kiddies. Dan and Katie are fierce runners up who, I am sure, will be getting booked up the wah-zoo.
Keely killed it last night showing that staying true to your artistic style and voice can carry you through even the toughest of weeks in this most exciting vocal competition.

And now we wait. We wait for Season 5 to begin on February 2nd.

‘Till then my friends. I need a vacation!



Songbird Spillage/Semi-Finals Week

Did you miss the semi-finals of Songbird? Hang your head in shame!
I am forgoing my usual spill to honor the tremendous work that the contestants have done this season.
Each their own shining star, we are now left with the 6 best of the best:

Fan Favorite vote winner- Lisa Parks
Dan Callahan
Keely Sibilia
Katie Mae
Brittany Marie
Jesse Braff

We said a very difficult farewell to powerhouse performers Chali and Krista Starr as they sang the house down and joined the ranks of their fallen comrades. Both performers are fierce and fabulous and I cannot wait to see them on stage again…and again…and again.

All season long, ten all-stars and ten newbies shared their joy and love of music, their voices, and in many cases their soul with our audience. Some for the prize money, some for the title, but all because this is what they love to do. It is not at all easy to put together a show-stopping number week after week and then wait for critique after critique just to do it all again. It’s grueling, and yet the contestants rose to the occasion with professionalism and grace. I could not be more proud of the tremendous work that has been left on the Tabu stage this season. You all love to read my honest (and shady) takes on the evenings, but I am more often than not just humbled to listen to these artists and thankful for the opportunity to help them in any way I can to realize their fullest potential.

3 All-Stars and 3 Newbies will now fight to take the title of Philadelphia’s Best Singer and join the ranks of Jo Stones, Larisa Bunch, and Kaleia Brown.

So, why no more details? Because it is time for you, my dear readers, to show up! Next week is the finale and your voyeuristic experience of this show has come to an end. Be present and experience the joyful music these fine artists will be serving.

See you at the Finale!

Tuesday 12/22 Doors at 8pm Show at 9pm

For all of your Songbird All-Stars vs. Newbies truth, check your local music life right here.