Chasing the dream: CF man to pursue singing career in Paris
CRYSTAL FALLS — At age 62, a local vocalist is proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Dean Hendrickson of Crystal Falls plans to leave in coming days for Paris, France, to pursue a career in music.
“I am still in shock — it’s very surreal,” said Hendrickson, who will be working with world-class songwriters and producers.
The opportunity developed after Hendrickson responded to a Facebook post this spring, the tenor/bass singer explained.
“I follow a number of artists online,” Hendrickson said. “A famous producer/DJ had asked for input on one of his brand-new song productions.”
Hendrickson’s comments ignited a conversation with David Guetta. “If anyone follows music, they know who David is,” he said. “He was intrigued and wanted to hear more of my ideas.”
After corresponding with Guetta and other producers, Hendrickson was asked to send recordings of his own performances. This led to questions, such as the bands or groups he was in and which record label he’d signed with.
“When I told him I wasn’t (signed to a label), he said, ‘Well you need to be, and we want you to come over here so we can work with you,'” Hendrickson said.
His first reaction was “absolutely” but needed to let them know his age. “They told me ‘that doesn’t matter — your voice trends ages and people can sing well into their 70s and 80s — look at Tony Bennett at 90,'” he said. “They stressed if you keep up with your voice, age doesn’t matter.”
But before he could leave the country, he needed to apply for his passport, which took 13 weeks. “That’s what delayed me leaving until now,” he said. “Once that came, it started to sink in — I got more excited.”
Although it is still too early to say which music genres and style they will choose for him, Hendrickson has provided them with plenty of ideas. “They know my vocal range and some producers already have songs in mind that they believe would be a good fit,” he said, adding he can also sing in Italian, Latin, French, as well as a little German.
He is also unsure if they will sign him as a solo artist or be part of a group. “I am open to whatever they feel fits the best,” Hendrickson said.
All his music recordings will go to Paris, and at that time if they feel the quality is good enough, they plan to do remixes of his already-recorded material.
Hendrickson has an eclectic taste in music. “I can listen to Berlioz in one minute, then Metallica the next, throwing some Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand in there,” he said.
Josh Groban is among his favorites as well, adding it would take hours to list all the voices he enjoys listening to or who have influenced him.
“I just love music,” he said. “With the exception of jazz and hip hop, I sing to everything.”
Hendrickson doesn’t need a stage to perform — he would sing to his favorite CDs while he drove back and forth to his job at The Daily News in Iron Mountain, where his final day was Friday. “That’s what keeps my voice in shape,” he said.
Hendrickson has no professional training but comes from a musically inclined family that goes back to his grandparents. Both his parents, Richard and Janet Hendrickson of Crystal Falls, along with his brother, Dale and sister, Jonie Lindeman all sing.
“We had all ranges covered — dad is a tenor, mom is alto, sister is soprano and brother is also a bass,” he said. “We have been singing together as a family ever since I can remember.”
A special performance he recalls was a recording of “Unforgettable” with his siblings for their grandmother’s 90th birthday.
“Many folks mentioned, ‘Why don’t they get together and sing all the time?'” Hendrickson said.
The 1979 Forest Park High School graduate credits his band teacher, Thad Stender, as his musical influence at that time. He played baritone, trombone and French horn in high school.
During his college years, he performed with the Northern Michigan University Choir and Band and Central Michigan University Choir and the Magical Singers.
“I went to CMU as a tenor and came out a bass singer,” he said with a laugh.
While at CMU, he was part of a select group that traveled to Ireland, performing eight concerts in seven days, including churches that were older than the United States as a country. They also made a trip to perform in New York City.
His involvement in local community choirs began at a young age in Crystal Falls and continued his whole life, with the exception of a two-year stint when he lived in Detroit. He recently was a member of the Dickinson County Community Chorus and United Lutheran Church Choir in Crystal Falls.
In addition to the numerous wedding ceremonies where he was featured vocalist, Hendrickson has sung the National Anthem at Forest Park High School events, as recently as Tuesday.
Hendrickson has wanted to become a professional singer his whole life and even had contacts with producers in New York City while residing in Milwaukee.
“But it had to go by the wayside because my dad had a stroke and I needed to move back to the area to take care of my parents,” he said. “This dream has been with me for a long, long time.”
Hendrickson was disappointed when “American Idol” first started, as they had too young an age limit to qualify. He had looked into auditioning for “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent” but was unable to commit of time it required. “It just wasn’t in the cards to go do that,” Hendrickson said. “Some of it was also having to build up the confidence to do it.”
Hendrickson has done plenty of research about France, but the one thing that worries him — he doesn’t speak French.
“I asked them if I should go online and start learning from one of the language sites,” he said. “They said, ‘Don’t bother with those — when you get here, we will teach proper French.'”
The producers in Paris have also arranged for a place to live, as well as providing him with a job. “They told me I don’t have to worry about any of those details,” he said, adding they will even take care of all his travel arrangements.
The new adventure is bittersweet for Hendrickson, as he will miss his small-town life of watching his Forest Park Trojans and seeing his co-workers at The Daily News, where he has been employed since 2019.
“Moving to a big city doesn’t bother me, as I have lived in several across the Midwest, including Detroit and Milwaukee, so I know what it’s like,” Hendrickson said.
After hitting the ground in France, he plans to go sightseeing and test out the French food. “Everyone who has been there said ‘You are going to love it,'” he said.
Still, his coming departure will be very sentimental, Hendrickson said, as he is leaving behind everything he has ever known for something brand new.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I can’t wait to move on with the new chapter of my life.”
He anticipates still traveling back for visits as well as shows. “I won’t be staying put in Paris, as I will be part of their touring group,” said Hendrickson, adding he will keep everyone updated with news on his Facebook page.
“This is just overwhelming for me,” he said. “It’s a total dream come true.”
Hendrickson is grateful for all the support and words of encouragement he has received from his family and friends as he starts to embark on his journey to the music industry.
“I feel really good that I have the backing of my friends, who know me best with my singing,” he said. “Sometimes I want to pinch myself — is this really happening?”