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Meet Finley Sexton

Second generation Sexton takes center stage
William Harries Graham, 12:27pm, Wed. Apr. 17, 2013
photo by Julia Hart

Last fall, Finley Sexton – Will Sexton’s teenage daughter – sat in with Todd Wolfson, Kathy McCarty, and Kacy Crowley at the Monkey’s Nest. Since then, she’s become a regular for the Proper Nang Night at Maria’s Taco Xpress. This past Saturday the audience included her uncle, Charlie Sexton, her grandmother, and lots of cousins to cheer her on.

She took the stage with a vintage 1952 Gibson acoustic and captivated the audience. Sexton always beams and looks confident, yet claims she’s still feeling shy about playing out live.

“Making music makes me very happy,” smiles Sexton. “I started playing guitar seriously a few years ago and have been writing songs for as long as I can remember.”

She sports an unmistakable look, with half her hair styled jet black and the top half pink. We were at Justine’s a few months ago when a Frenchman asked if he could take her photo as a representation of the current American teen style. Her music comes inspired by the Smiths, Jimi Hendrix, Blondie, and Tears for Fears.

“I really focus on the old stuff and am not a big fan at all of the new radio stuff,” she explains. “But my dad is my biggest inspiration. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him.”

Sexton and I both share this odd occurrence where people know who we are because of our fathers – mine’s Jon Dee Graham – yet we’re clueless about who they are, which can leave you feeling vulnerable (see their portrait in the photo gallery).

“Everywhere I go people know my dad and it’s so weird for me,” she notes. “The most unusual thing so far was when we went to one of my dad’s shows and this lady walked up to us, turned around, pulled up her shirt, and showed us she has a tattoo of my dad’s face on her back.”

Of course the name of the game is for Finley to make a name for herself.

“I want to keep doing what I’m doing and get better at it,” she nods. “I don’t care at all about fame. I just want to make sure that while doing what I love, I can provide for myself.”

Singer-songwriter and booker at Threadgill’s, Charlie Faye, counts herself a fan of the young Sexton.

“Finley has an insane amount of natural talent,” offers Fays. “Like her dad, she has great ears, and she can pretty much pick up any instrument and figure out how to play it. And she’s a phenomenal songwriter.

“Anyone who’s met Finley knows that she’s wise beyond her years, and her writing reflects that. She always has something to say, and she knows how to get it across through lyrics and melody. There’s nothing juvenile about her writing.

“We put on a show the last night of South by Southwest with Will Sexton and Brady Blade. Finley blew everybody out of the water. She surpassed every artist who got up on stage that night,” marvels Faye.

That’s just a little taste of what’s to come from Finley Sexton.

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