Hensley has been performing since age 5 and recording in studios since she was 9, citing a long list of inspirations that includes Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Allman Brothers, and Ella Fitzgerald. It’s no coincidence that the list of artists is heavily blues influenced.
“I sing blues because it is honest,” she said. “There’s no B.S. You can feel it. That is what music is all about. Sure, it needs to sound good, but for me, the feeling always comes first. Especially as a singer, it needs to come from your soul,” she continued.
“People can tell if you are being truthful and sincere. That’s what the blues is all about. You can’t fake it. That’s why I love it.”
Born in Los Gatos, Hensley arrived in San Diego after a brief stop in Orange County. “My dad had a job opportunity and we moved to San Diego after living in Orange County for a few years,” she recalled. “San Diego is by far my favorite place I have lived.”
Hensley’s choice of music as a career was likely influenced by her family. “I was really fortunate to have music-loving parents,” she said. “There was always an amazing album blasting in the house. We don’t listen to music quietly in my family,” she laughed.
“One of my earliest memories is setting up my stuffed animals as my audience and standing on my bed and singing to them. I have never wanted to do anything else. Music has always had my heart.”
For her band, Hensley has partnered with drummer Evan Yearsley. “I attended a lot of blues jams, because I knew that I wanted to put a blues band together,” she said. “I had known Evan for many years because I recorded at his dad’s studio and on his mother, Candye Kane’s, last record. I started going to his jam and playing with people like Evan and guitarist Laura Chavez.”
Chavez soon became a mainstay of Hensley’s band, while all the time playing together with Yearsly also led to romance. “After spending so much time together Evan and I fell in love,” she said. “We both loved playing music together, so we decided to put all of our effort into making a great band and being a team.”
Hensley recently released her debut album, taping an in-studio concert for “Live!” It’s a great representation of Hensley’s mix of originals and cover tunes.
“People really love when I do Aretha Franklin and Etta James songs, and they also love the originals. There is one song in particular on our new record “Casey Hensley Live” that’s called “Don’t Want It to Stop” that everyone really seems to love,” she said. “It is one of the only love songs I have ever successfully written. I can write about heartbreak all day, but love songs have always been more of a challenge for me,” Hensley mused.
For her part, Hensley is happy with her career path, set to include weeks of West Coast touring and more recording in 2017. “My favorite thing about being a musician is the ability to really make people happy,” she said. “It is such a gift. We get to go up on stage and help people forget about their stress and their worries and just have fun.
“To be able to put a smile on someone’s face is so rewarding. That is what it is all about,” she said.
Where: The Casey Hensley Band to play
at Winston’s, 1921 Bacon St.
When: 5 p.m. Sunday, April 16.