Teressa Wilcox
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Teressa Wilcox

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"Three Divas : Teressa, Kelley and Joanne"

Three Divas : Teressa, Kelley and Joanne
Mike Allen
October 1, 2009

Recently, I saw that Three Divas came to town, a musical review featuring three talented vocalists. I did not attend any of those shows, as they are too costly for me at this time. I’ll bet they were great. If anyone of you reading this blog did catch one, please let me know what you thought. I’m also curious as to how many times a grandstand occurred?

By grandstand, I mean vocal filled extended endings, where a female vocalist flaunts her pipes. Maybe by locking in on a portion of the song and repeating that phrase while modulating, each modulation becoming louder as the gal needs to push more air. Reminds me of a Baptist Chorus. This dynamic is further enhanced by the performer and some audience members believing that they transcended. I’ll pass on it.

I’ve been working on promoting a new group that I am proud to be part of. I’ve been working with Nick for a while, and now we’ve added Will Cleary. I have some music of us on my website www.akingofsoul.com . I will post more music soon, along with some recordings of bands I played with in the sixties. If you get a chance, please check out the site and the music. What does that have to do with Three Divas? Absolutely nothing, but the rest of this log does.

I’m going to talk about Three Divas. They all grew up locally, and in my eyes, their stars are lighting up. I am in no way implying that these are the only whose stars are lighting, but as of recent, I’ve caught one or more of their shows and none of the shows has cost me any bread to see. Not bad for stellar performances.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to break this up into segments and write about one of them at a time. Who are they? Teressa Wilcox, Kelley Izzo, and JoAnne Vacarro.

For the first installment I’ll write about Teressa, whom I don’t know very well. The fact of the matter is: I don’t know any of the three very well.

Less than two years ago, I saw a promo picture of Teressa in Freetime. She had a white dress shirt on, was holding her guitar, and singing into a mic. To me, that shot portrayed a girl that if nothing else, knew how to present herself. She had a “Star” look.
The first time I heard her perform was at some show at Water Street. She was about third or fourth on the bill. She sang well, the sound engineer did well, and the minimalistic accompaniment fit nicely.

I didn’t have the opportunity to see her again until last year when Nate hosted jams at the Dub Underground. She sang well, but the mix was terrible. Part of it had to do with the acoustics, part due to lack of or improper sound check, and to top it all off, the band drowned her out.

Most recently, Teressa has been participating in the Tuesday Open Mic at Lovin’ Cup. She is joined by Nate and occasionally by one or more other players. She keeps it mixed up. One time she had an electronic cellist.

A few months back, Teressa told me that she had given notice at work, and that she will devote all of her time on making it. Her eyes are on New York and New Orleans.

In addition to Lovin’ Cup on Tuesdays, she been a feature player at Abilene’s on Wednesdays. I’ve heard the Grand Canyon Rescue Squad back her up, as well as Nate and Jimmy Mac behind her. Always well mixed and sounding great.

Two weeks ago, mid-September, I stopped out to Lovin’ Cup on Tuesday and Teressa and Nate played. Nate said that they were going to Dinasour (for Too Tall’s open jam),
and then over to Dub Underground to jam.

Three performances at three different locations in one night. That’s a lot of work, and a lot of hustle.

The next day, Wednesday, Teressa and Nate played at the Abilene session, and on Thursday they played at The Flipside open mic.

The fourth night (Friday) Teressa played Downstairs at The German House’s Keg. At this performance she was joined by Herbie (from The Almightys and other groups). Herb brought a nice edge to Teressa’s song.

That was a lot of gigs, and I’m not sure of how many others she did over the weekend.

Last night, Teressa, Nate and the Cellist played at Havana Moe’s. The place was packed and Teressa shined.

For the short time that I have been familiar with Teressa, I have seen her grow immensely as a performer. To see and hear her sing a few songs, one can easily recognize that she’s been blessed and is committed to develop it. Her talent and commitment feeds her strength and eases any fear of the bumpy road that lies ahead. At one point at Moe’s, she put her guitar down and Nate backed her as she sang. It was then, I realized where she is.

Next time I’ll write about either Kelley or Joanne.

Meanwhile, I’ll be playing at The Starship Niteclub on Fridays at 6 pm for a Jazz Happy Hour.


"PREVIEW: Teressa Wilcox"

PREVIEW: Teressa Wilcox
Thanks for the heartaches: Teressa Wilcox moves on
By Frank De Blase on Apr. 30th, 2008
Ain't love grand? Teressa Wilcox gets raked over the coals romantically a lot for such a pretty thing. This young Rochester singer-songwriter seems to be in a perpetual state of heartache. It's her music's primary source of inspiration. Wilcox pays the price to sing so nice.

"I really write a lot of heartbreak songs," Wilcox says. "That's just what I write about. That's what I get out of those relationships."

Wilcox claims it isn't on purpose. She's single now, but the old pain still surfaces from time to time.

"I just finished a song about someone who broke my heart two years ago," she says. The whole relationship was more or less chronicled musically from its happily-ever-after outlook in the beginning to what now seems like another inevitable break in the end. Wilcox doesn't care if the ex is wise to his lyrical immortality either. The song was for her.

"I'm sure he has an idea, though" she says.

Wilcox's music isn't at all weepy or sappy; it isn't the blues. She stands out in a genre crowded by wronged women armed with guitars. She sings brightly, gently, and in earnest above her fluidly percussive guitar playing. Her acoustically rooted music has legs enough to keep up in an amped-up, full-band situation as well, where it takes on a less rural, less twangy Lucinda Williams-type tack. Her music is a sigh backed with power, resolve, and relief.

And the gal's got guts - guts enough to move it all down to New York City in July.

Performing around Rochester since her late teens, Wilcox is relatively well known here on her own and within the whole "Chicks With Picks" explosion of new female artists. But this 24-year-old talent wants to leave the safety and security of home and give it the big-city push. This is a bold move for Wilcox, who doesn't usually exhibit the shuck, jive, and hustle of a self-employed artist looking for a break. It's admirable, yet perhaps even a little worrisome; that downstate star-making machine has some pretty sharp teeth. It can be more than a little daunting. Wilcox is a little scared.

"Really scared," she says. "This is something I think I should have done when I was 21. A lot of it is not knowing anyone, not having enough money. But the things I've done here have given me more confidence to go do it there."

Wilcox recently had a management deal with MBK Entertainment - the company that handles r&b diva Alicia Keys - go south. The deal seemed swell on the surface, but Wilcox saw change and compromise on the horizon.

"In a way," she says, "it was one of those things that wasn't meant to be. Although everything seemed really great, the opportunity was great, in the end I think they were a more r&b-type company. And I'm not very r&b. I realized I really needed to stick to the kind of music I was doing if I was going to be working with somebody like that."

Even if changing meant a shot at the big time.

"I know that sometimes you have to do some things you don't want to do, but that could've changed my music as a whole, and it might have been harder to get back to the person I really am."

Wilcox has dialed back some of her self-professed stubbornness on several songwriting collaborations she's done via a publishing deal with Don Black, a songwriter who has worked with the likes of Elton John. Some tunes got pitched to other artists, one wound up being recorded by another artist. It was as if Wilcox was giving them up for adoption. She didn't like it.

"In a way, I wish I could've still had that song as my own," she says.

Wilcox is looking forward to the inspiration new surroundings will bring. She still has her publishing deal with Black, is tightening up new material for album No. 2, working on the live show with her band (which will remain here while she gets her name out working the Gotham open mic scene), and pushing the whole affair with new manager and local music impresario Carl Labate.

And there's probably another heartache around the corner as well. Perhaps these heartaches happen because all these would-be Romeos aren't her first love.

"I love my music," she says. "And I want the whole world to hear it."

Teressa Wilcox

Lilac Festival, Highland Park

Sunday, May 18

2:30 p.m. | free | myspace.com/teressawilcox
- City Newspaper

"Chicks with Picks"

Chicks with picks
Six women make the scene with a new singer-songwriter movement
on August 2, 2006

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You see a young girl with a guitar perched on a stool on a makeshift stage in a dimly lit coffee house, and you just know what's going to happen next, right? There'll be some left-wing caterwauling, a litany of boy-bashing rhetoric over three or four well-worn guitar chords, and plenty of overwrought passion and urgency.

Not so fast.

That isn't to say the supposition doesn't ring true to a certain extent. We've all heard it before. But within all this often-exasperating self-exploration and expression, a few diamonds shine bright in the creative rough; artists with something to say that supersede the stereotypes, draw upon audiences outside the norm, and create credible music. Young women with guitars perched on stools on makeshift stages in dimly lit coffee houses.

In Rochester there are six of them; six young ladies in spite of it all. I'm not sure I know what constitutes a musical movement, or how many artists actually have to make the scene before a genre and its musicians hit radar screens. One?Two?Five?

Six. That oughta be enough for a movement. Yeah, six.

This particular movement is entirely organic. Though frequently sharing the stage together, all of these young artists have come into their own, on their own. They have risen above the various limitations set by others and beyond what people expect from them.

There is a movement here of young talented female singer/songwriters springing up in this town. These women are talented. These women are for real. This is their time.

Acoustic guitar and the art of the subconscious zeitgeist

It's that voice. It'll stop you in your tracks. Margaret Storms' dusky alto and smooth delivery belie her 17 years. Her maturity is refreshing as well. Storms is well aware of the obstacles she and other female singer/songwriters face, as well as the importance of what they're all doing.

"I think this sort of thing actually might be a sort of subconscious zeitgeist," she says. "As smart girls rise up against the 'I'm this bimbo and I'm just going to pimp clothing and not think for myself' sort of idea that's in music right now."

Storms writes and plays rock songs. For now it's just her and her Guild acoustic. She plans on fleshing some of her new tunes out in the studio with a band. Still, the songs remain, as does her unconventional guitar chording and song structures.

Her songs take precedence over show biz; Storms simply gets on stage, leans in, and plays. She's been doing it for two and a half years yet she exudes a seasoned confidence afforded through initial stage fright at her first gig at Daily Perks Coffee House. But she got over it.

"It was fine," she says. "They liked me. I didn't puke."

Storms assumes two prevailing misconceptions from new audiences.

"There's those people who go 'Oh god, it's another one of those femi-nazi butch dykes,'" she says. "Or you get, 'Oh, it's just another stupid girl with a guitar.'" Both of these theories are shot down quickly once the Margaret Storm begins. Lyrically she straddles the chasm between the girl she was and the woman she is. This gives listeners an intimate peek into her life as it changes romantically, socially, sexually --- listeners including her mom and dad. Do they prefer knowing this info?

"Well, knowing my parents, yes, actually," Storms says. "But I don't think the average parent would agree."

This is not a love song

Nora Kaminski is a proficient fiddler. She's been playing the instrument since she was 5. She taught herself guitar a year and a half ago after playing violin with local musician Matt Cross.

"He had all these really cool songs written," Kaminski says. "And I wanted to write songs too. So I taught myself. I looked up chords on the Internet and then I watched people."

Now, even with limited training, the guitar has become her weapon of choice.

Kaminski is a utilitarian player. This works well with her quiet delivery and sarcasm. And this 17-year-old has an opinion or two. She pours out songs about Rush Limbaugh, our nation's dependency on oil, emo boyfriends, and tunes filled with general youthful optimism. Of all the women in this scene, Kaminski is probably the most classic in her left-wing defiance and rebellious leanings. That's not to say she's militant, but the music brings out a more vociferous and profane side to this otherwise shy young lady.

"I don't usually swear all that often," she says. "So it's kinda weird that I do in my songs."

She hits SUNY Fredonia this fall and plans to continue playing. Ultimately she wants to work in music therapy or teach kids with disabilities. She's got pro chops and pro insight, but not necessarily pro aspirations.

"The music business is really terrible," she says. "I really despise money. A lot of people are in it for the money and that's what sucks.

"I work it as a summer job but it's because I love doing it."

And she'll continue writing about anything and everything that happens to and around her.


"I will never write a love song," she says. "Because it's nobody's business what I do with my love life."

Endless crush

"When I play acoustic it's more intimate, and I get to tell stories and it's just a closer thing," Teressa Wilcox says. "And there's more rawness to that." More often than not you'll see Wilcox and her guitar ala carte where nothing --- including her guitar --- gets in the way of her sweet voice. When fronting a full band, Wilcox's sound is pretty, slick and poppy. The songs are still there, there are just more colors to paint with.

"I like all the different elements of pop and rock when it's with a band," she says.

Wilcox has already landed a publishing deal, has management and is working on self-releasing CD No. 2. She has performed and recorded overseas and seems to be giving it the big push. She gigs around Rochestera lot.

Yet within the big star-maker machine is her music; music that is as soft-spoken as she is in person, yet grows in impact and volume as it resonates. As this 23-year-old grows musically, dashes of real life increasingly find their way into her songwriting, although even as a teenager she was writing songs about relationships gone bad.

"How could someone at the age of 13 feel all that stuff?" she says. "I'm writing from real experiences now." Still, some of those teenage experiences were real...and lasting.

"The second song I ever wrote was called 'Dead Silence,'" she says. "And that was my first real song. It was about a kid I had a crush on. We still play that song today."

Not quite what you expected

Teagan Ward first saw Teressa Wilcox sing when she was a freshman at MercyHigh School. At the time Ward was unaware of the powerhouse inside her own lungs. Other than around the house, Ward didn't sing.

"I though 'Oh my God, this girl is so good,'" she says. "I didn't know that I could sing really."


Ward's voice is easily twice her size. That's not to say this 19-year-old bellows; it's just not what you expect to come out of such a slight frame. Folks may pre-judge when she walks on stage.

"I don't care," she says. "I like the fact that I'm a girl and people probably don't think much at first. I like stepping on stage and singing and people being blown away to some extent. 'Cause I don't think they expect that out of me." Nobody really expects 10-foot pipes out of a 5-foot-something woman.

Ward's mother, Renee Ward, was a rock musician herself, and played rhythm guitarist and sang lead vocals for the late Split Image. She encouraged her daughter to pick up the guitar.

"I never really got into it," she says. "I wanted to play the drums." Ward went so far as to study percussion at Roberts Wesleyan, but the theory and technical emphasis took the fun out of it.

Her boyfriend at the time showed her a few chords. Not long after she started singing.

It pleases her to be a part of this apparent movement of young female songwriting talent. Just as Wilcox's show at Mercy High encouraged her, she hopes that by playing out, she and the other five will encourage more young women waiting in the wings with a guitar and a song. It's just a matter of time.

"It's gonna be giant soon," she says.

Could've been a contender

Everyone loves a smart ass. Consequently everyone's gonna love Julia Nunes. This young lady is irreverent, sassy, and savvy. She's defiant. She's observant. She's unflinchingly honest. Thank God she's got this outlet.

"I think playing guitar and songwriting is like God's gift to my hormones," she says.

Nunes has been picking guitar for the last four of her 17 years. Pre-hormones, it was a pretty standard scenario.

"Just normal teen angst that I had," she says. "I was 14; you know, school sucks, so I started writing songs about that. It was an easy way to get it out."

She strums in a quasi-madrigal kind of way, keeping her close to the folk side of things. But lyrically she waxes a lot more urban --- shopping at the dollar store, the quirks of her various friends.

She's currently recording her second CD with The Chesterfield Kings behind the board at their Living Eye Studios. Her eyes are on the horizon. In her drive and optimism she hasn't chosen a safety net and has no idea what she'd do if she weren't playing music.

"Maybe, I'd be a boxer," she suggests. "Take out all my anger there on the punching bag."

I cannot tell a lie

Katy Wright hated the guitar. Well, she liked it actually, but it had already been established as a "boy's instrument."

"I felt like all the boys were playing guitar, and I wanted to stick to my piano," she says. She also hated the clarinet. And she hates the gender limitations associated with certain instruments.

"In high school it seemed like all the girls were forced to play clarinets and flutes," she says. "The boys all played drums and trumpets. I wanted to play drums and trumpet. I wanted to mingle in with the boys."

Wright discovered a knack for songwriting her senior year at MarcusWhitmanHigh School in Rushville. She couldn't haul a piano around so she bit the bullet and picked up the dreaded guitar. Her first song wasn't far behind.

With a degree in music, this 23-year-old lives and breathes the stuff. She teaches piano and voice at The House Of Guitars and Northfield Music. Her straight gig as manager at Boulder Coffee finds her booking the acts as well.

But despite her theoretical knowledge of music she still treads lightly. Her guitar playing is somewhat conservative and understated. She's modest about her talent and quick to point out her own limitations. Piano is her main instrument, yet doesn't make it into the current singer/songwriter equation.

"I don't write on piano," she says. "I have to separate classical music from songwriting. I get really nervous when I play piano in front of people and I don't really with guitar. I think it's because people have expectations of me because I'm classically trained."

And Wright is giving it the push as well. She has one self-released CD out, is working on new material, and is sending songs to Nashville.

Though Wright reins it in, her songs still let fly.

"I think I've become, over the years, a pretty raw songwriter," she says. "I used to kind of beat around the bush with my words and try to get the audience to read these subliminal messages. I've grown up enough now to be completely honest. I don't lie in my songs. I don't make things up."

For more information on these artists, check out:

Teagan Ward:www.myspace.com/teaganlward; Katy Wright: www.myspace.com/katywright7; Teressa Wilcox: www.dangnation.com; Nora Kaminski: www.norakaminski.com; Julia Nunes:www.myspace.com/jaaaaaaa.

- City Paper


.(Laura Michelle Kelly - "stumbling") www.lauramichellekelly.co.uk/
as well as Australia (Tamin Sursok "something better" www.imdb.com/name/nm0839730/
Teressa Wilcox released her first EP in 2007, and is soon to release her second EP in November of 2009, a third is already in the works.



Teressa Wilcox was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y. Her musical journey began at a very early age. She learned to play the piano when she was 6 years old and guitar when she was 13. In the earlier years of High School Teressa starting writing songs. In 2001 she recorded a 5 track album and sold copies around her High School. Her sound is described as heartfelt acoustic rock with a sound of her own. Teressa has opened for Asia, Richard Julian and Paul Freeman along with afterparty shows for Rusted Root, Blues Traveler and even sang for former president Bill Clinton. Teressa has also headlined the Rochester famous 10 Ugly Men Festival.

At 19 she began working with producers and songwriters in the U.K. wich included Damian Le Gassick,www.discogs.com/artist/Damian+LeGassick
Michael Scherchen, www.discogs.com/artist/Michael+Scherchen
and Brio Taliaferro.www.365artists.com/pages/producers.php?artistID=39
A recording trip to Scotland in 2002 lead to numerous trips to London, England where she performed at pubs, worked with established songwriters, and producers, and ultimately signed a publishing contract with famous lyricist Don Black. www.donblack.co.uk/ Most recognizable for writing "Born Free", "Diamonds are Forever", "To Sir with Love" etc...
Two songs that Teressa has co wrote have been released in the U.K.(Laura Michelle Kelly - "stumbling") www.lauramichellekelly.co.uk/
as well as Australia (Tamin Sursok "something better" www.imdb.com/name/nm0839730/
Teressa is a singer/songwriter who draws raw emotion from her heart into songs that people can relate too. Her Acoustic/Rock/Pop style will not only move you, but it will stop you in your tracks. From her broken hearts to her outright honesty it is clear that her passion is to live and breath music. She is currently in the studio working on her second album and will be touring the North East.