As a child, Becca Hennesy wandered around her Agoura home singing at the top of her lungs, fantasizing about being a star. Now 32, she is living her dream, enjoying success as a top independent artist with a unique sound and a full life.
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“Honest to goodness, by the time I was in kindergarten I said I’d be a singer,” she said. “I would sing all day. I really try and tell people I’m a testament that people’s dreams do come true.”
Hennesy’s first single, “Second Chance,” hit No. 1 on the independent country charts, and her second single, “Pieces of My Heart,” currently holds a Top 10 spot.
In October, she was named national country artist of the year at the Phoenix Music Awards. Last month she performed at the Los Angeles Music Awards and took home three honors: best produced country album of the year, country single of the year and the international superstar award
“That was surreal,” Hennesy said of her awards. “It was kind of the beginning of seeing the fruit of what I’ve done. To get up there and have people honor you like that . . . it was really fun.”
Hennesy was born and raised in Agoura. She moved to Los Angeles when she was 19 but moved back to the Conejo Valley 10 years later. She and her husband, Michael, have been in Thousand Oaks for five years.
“People laugh now when I say I’m from a small town and then say Thousand Oaks,” Hennesy said. “I know it’s not really small, but it’s still so community-driven. I love it.”
Hennesy started out singing pop and R&B music.
“There was something missing, musically,” Hennesy said. “I couldn’t pinpoint it. The songs I was writing myself were geared toward country, but I thought you had to be from Nashville.”
After producers kept telling her to switch Hennesy decided she’d give country a try.
“I said I’d do it but that I was not going to sing with a twang in my voice. That’s not who I am,” she said. “Then I just started to sing, and I sang wherever I could. If you want to be a singer, introduce yourself, open your mouth, go on auditions. Get as much experience as you can get.”
Hennesy describes her sound as “L.A. country,” which she calls “country with a twist.”
“A lot of my songs were written by blues writers from Chicago,” Hennesy said. “That’s out of the norm. Most people who do country are from Nashville, and the writers are from Nashville, and they are best—that’s the truth. But I really took to these songs.”
“Dozen Roses,” her first crack at country, was released in Sweden and soon hit No. 13. The album “Becca” is now being played at more than 300 stations all over the world.
“It was really a grassroots effort,” Hennesy said. “My producer was literally knocking on doors of every radio station you can imagine. ClearChannel owns all the big stations, and they won’t touch independent artists. But we were lucky to get a lot of DJs who still believe in that.”
Hennesy and her husband, a writer who penned some of her songs, live in Thousand Oaks with their two boys, Dillon, 5, and Braydon, 3.
“I don’t think I could have time limit, it makes you organize differently. And with my singing, it gave me an emotional depth to my voice I hadn’t had before.”
Hennesy has a lot on her plate for the next year, including a new album, a skincare line and possibly a movie deal and her first tour.
“I’m really looking forward to 2009 being a great year,” she said. “The vision at 19 was, ‘Oh, I wanna be a pop star,'” Hennesy said. “Now I want to sing music, touch people and change lives. And I want to show people that you can be a mommy
and do that.” “Becca” is available on iTunes, www .cdbaby.com and at Tower Records
For more information, visit www.beccaonline.com.