Obed Manuel / Contributing Writer
Kelsey Henry doesn’t want the number of hits or downloads Taylor Swift gets or the fame and glamour that come with being a country music sensation.
Henry, a digital retailing junior, steps onto the stage with her acoustic guitar and foot drum for two reasons — to let her creative nature flourish and to connect with her audience.
“I don’t focus on just the singing or just the songwriting or just the guitar playing,” Henry said. “I am there for the performance aspect of it, and I try give people a show.”
Henry will perform from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Clark Park outside Clark Hall as part of the University Program Council Music Series.
The Arlington native spends her days working as a student assistant for UNT’s global Digital Retailing Center, performing at local music venues like Banter and The Whitehouse, making crafts and teaching crafting classes and serving as president of Bored in Denton, an organization that organizes events to entertain bored students.
Henry brims with a bubbly personality and her smile returns after every sentence she finishes. Few would guess the charismatic singer spent her middle and high school years living in an RV with her parents.
Henry’s father traveled from Texas to California for work, so around the time Henry was 11, her parents decided it was best for the three of them to be together. They moved into an RV and hit the road, spending most of their time in California, Texas and Virginia.
Henry spent that time being “road-schooled,” as she puts it, and not being around many people her age.
“I grew up around a lot of adults,” Henry said. “Kids my own age made me so nervous.”
Henry began performing by singing country star Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” at RV parks.
“I wouldn’t say ‘hell,’ so I would always cover my mouth, and I couldn’t say ‘sexy’ without giggling,” Henry said.
Henry said transitioning to a more stable way of life has been mostly seamless, and that she makes the most of her time in college by involving herself in as many school activities as possible.
Digital retailing lecturer Richard Last said Henry’s outgoing nature and keenness to learn about digital retailing are what led to him offering her a job as a student assistant in the digital retailing center.
“It’s a field that continues to morph itself so much that you need people who are very open to change and are flexible,” Last said. “You need people who think outside of the box. That’s where she is.”
Metalsmithing and jewelry senior Kate Whinnery was in charge of hiring Henry for the music series. Henry caught Whinnery’s attention at a UPC talent show at the end of the spring 2013 semester, during which attending students responded positively to Henry’s performance.
“It’s always nice to have a student element in our music series, so they can show off their talent to a crowd,” Whinnery said.
Henry said she has spent the past week getting ready for her performance. She will be singing one of her new songs, titled “Duct Tape My Heart,” and selling duct tape-themed handicrafts.
“I’m getting all my duct tape stuff ready,” Henry said. “I’m pulling out all the stops for that because what I really love to do is get that out. I want people to see duct tape and think my name.”
Digital retailing junior Kelsey Henry plays her guitar named Austin and sings along to an original song. Henry is set to play her original country influenced pop tracks 12:30 p.m. today at Clark Park. Feature photo by Margaret Saucedo / Intern