AS Taylor Henderson strums his guitar in the Warrnambool Art Gallery and breaks into an impromptu version of Daryl Braithwaite’s The Horses, it becomes clear he’s not another manufactured pop star.
The 21-year-old from Ceres, near Geelong, has serious talent — and the thousand-odd fans who gathered on Warrnambool’s Civic Green on Saturday seemed to agree.
Henderson, the runner-up on last year’s edition of TV talent quest The X Factor, was in town for a free “pop-up” performance as part of the Telstra Thanks customer loyalty program.
Henderson, who was also a finalist on the 2010 version of Australia’ Got Talent, said The X Factor helped him come out of his shell and showcase his music to the world.
“I guess for a long time I hid my music a bit,” Henderson told The Standard.
“I went on Australia’s Got Talent and then four years later X Factor appeared. I was very nervous I guess, having already been on one TV show and I knew there would be no excuses (going on X Factor). The best thing the X Factor did for me was made me stay so true to myself. The moment you try to be something you’re not on that show, people just think you’re an idiot, so you have to stay so true to yourself.”
But it all could have been very different. Henderson said he almost considered leaving the line-up at his initial X Factor audition.
“I turned to my left and there was this group of people singing like crazy, then to my right there was a woman sounding amazing and I just thought how on earth am I meant to do this?” he said.
“But I conquered it, and now here I am in Warrnambool. To have all these people waiting for me is incredible, and I’m just so happy I now finally get to show my music.”
Henderson’s second studio album, Burnt Letters, is due for release next month and he said he couldn’t wait for people to hear his own music.
He said his first album, a collection of covers he sang on the show, was recorded in three days, while the new album has been a work in progress for eight months and includes songs he wrote himself.
“I’ve written songs from my childhood to now that are on the new album. It’s a very raw and open acoustic album,” he said.
“People have been telling me since the first album they wanted to hear new music and I had to say ‘wait, it’s coming’.”
Henderson will be back in Warrnambool next month to perform at the Fun4Kids Festival, with fellow The X Factor contestants Jai Waitford and band What About Tonight.
“I’ve been to the Fun4Kids Festival before, so I can’t wait to come back and perform.”
Telstra country wide area general manager Bill Mundy said the telco was really pleased to have the opportunity to bring Henderson to Warrnambool.
“The Telstra Thanks program is one of the many ways we look to provide support back to our customers,” he said.