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Heather Harper: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

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By Johnny Griffith

We live in a culture that’s more and more obsessed with instant gratification while less interested in waiting for anything. Whether it be binge watching entire seasons of your favorite show, ordering your coffee ahead of time, or starting a job expecting a corner office, we want what we want, and we want it right now!

There is a local rising pop musician, however, who is going against the flow and taking her time with her music career. Born and raised in Tyler, Heather Harper is a 2007 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School who has music in her blood, yet is only recently getting her career off the ground. Heather got her first guitar around age 7 and learned to play by ear while listening to her family members perform. A natural talent, Heather would frequently sing the national anthem at games and create self-made CD’s to give out to her friends and teachers “just in case she became famous someday.” Well, that day might be just around the corner as Heather just released her first single back in February and seems to be poised for success.

She sat down with us recently to tell us a little bit more about herself:

Johnny: Your interest in music began at an early age. What was your motivation to start playing music in the first place?

Heather: I first picked up music at just 3 years old. One night my mom heard a noise coming from the bathroom and heard singing, and my mom thought it was coming from a doll, but when she looked in it was me singing. It was a part from the movie “Little Mermaid” from the scene when Ariel got her voice back. She couldn’t believe such high notes were coming from such a little girl like me and the fact that I was able to hit those notes. I believe that was the first time my mom knew I could sing and ever since, I haven’t stopped singing. It was my mom who inspired me the most to get into music. Growing up I used to watch her perform around locally for church and community events. She even got an opportunity in Nashville one year. Eventually, I got to join in with her at events starting when I was about age 10, and it was at that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Johnny: When and where was the first event you performed at publicly?

Heather: Well, I first started performing in church, and my first big event was at the Chandler City Hall when I was just 11 years old in 2000. I remember I was dressed up really western and sang “Daddy’s Hands” and “Love Can Build a Bridge,” and then mom and I sang “Grandpa” together.

Johnny: Who were some of the early musical influences that shaped your style?

Heather: Growing up, my musical influences at the time were Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, The Backstreet Boys, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, and many more. And even in today’s music, such as Taylor Swift and Tove Lo, have a lot to do with my musical influences and the shaping of my signature style/sound.

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Johnny: When did you begin writing your own music?

Heather: I first started writing songs when I was in middle school. It started with me writing poems first then turning them into songs. But now when songs come to me, they first start with a melody in my head, then I put lyrics with it. A lot of my songs are written truth about my life or others’ lives and even sometimes I may just write about something fun. Sometimes it takes me anywhere from 10 minutes to weeks to write a song. I write whatever comes to me. Just because I am a pop singer doesn’t mean I am a pop songwriter. When I write my music I don’t like to label myself a certain genre during writing time. I figure out later what genre the song would fit with. I have written many songs, anywhere from country to christian to pop, etc..

Johnny: In an area where Country and Rock are so prevalent, how did you gravitate toward pop music as your style of preference?

Heather: I grew up around mostly gospel, bluegrass, and country music because that’s what my family mostly played. And that’s what motivated me to want to be different, to just “do” something different. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. And my parents were definitely supportive of the idea.

Johnny: Has that presented any challenges finding local gigs?

Heather: Well sure, but you just have to keep putting your foot down. I believe I am already making a difference. For example, I have been booked at Clicks, which has been known for being a rock music venue. I have already been playing here locally in the East Texas area and will continue to do so wherever I can.

Johnny: How integral has family been in your success?

Heather: My family is 100 percent supportive of my music career. They have all been there since day one and continue to be there for me every step. My family is what also helps me get through any challenges in my career.

Johnny: You recently released a single, “Moonlight.” How has the response to that been so far and how was the process of recording for you?

Heather: “Moonlight” has so far been a great success in my book, for example, in less than one month it received over 7,000 listens on Spotify. It took me about a month to record it in the studio, which was at Studio 333 with Chad of Mauldin Productions. The recording process went very smoothly. I don’t think I could have picked a better person than Chad to work with. I was amazed at how quickly he picked up my songs and knew exactly how I wanted them to sound. I also just got through last month in March shooting my music video, which is expected to be released sometime in May 2017. And I already have my next single “Emotions” ready, which just released a few days ago.

Johnny: Okay, so it’s been 10 years since you graduated from Robert E. Lee, which is almost a lifetime in the music business. You settled down, married your high school sweetheart, and started a wonderful family, but do you have thoughts that maybe you waited too long to get in the game?

Heather: I always get asked this question, why go for it now? And why are you just now recording and releasing songs you have written years ago? My answer is, to be honest I am glad I didn’t go for it 10 years ago knowing what I know now about the music industry. I feel back then I wasn’t truly prepared and ready. I was offered many opportunities back then, but my mom and dad would both tell me it’s not the right time yet, and I am glad I listened to them. But, it’s about having patience, timing, educating yourself, your fans, not giving up, and most importantly trusting in God because he knows your future.

Johnny: What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Heather: What I am most proud of in my career so far is finally getting my songs recorded and released and also the thrill of performing for others. Music is not what I do, it’s who I am, and to finally be able to express myself in my own music is an awesome feeling.

Upcoming Shows:

  • May 20th: M6 Winery, Bullard
  • June 17th: Kawa’s Grill & Lounge, Tyler

For more info about Heather Harper go to heatherharpermusic.com or find her on Facebook.

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Around East Texas

April 21st: Mouse and the Traps and Bowling for Soup

Upcoming Concerts

April 21st (8pm) – Mouse & The Traps – After more than 50 years together, Mouse & the Traps continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll.” Formed in Tyler, Texas in 1965, Mouse, Nardo, Dave & Larry continue to give the public just what they want – great rock and roll. Whether you remember “Public Execution,” “Hit the Bricks,” or not, Mouse & The Traps has something for everyone. Tickets are $20-$25.

April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advance online for $15 at etix.com.

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Blind Pursuit: Chasing Dreams

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By Johnny Griffith

In science, there is a phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect which states, that in a complex system, small changes in one place can have a larger effect elsewhere. This is best illustrated in the hypothetical example of a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico and causing a hurricane in China.

A more practical example of this would be the formation of the band Blind Pursuit, based out of Palestine, Texas. An amalgamation of sound and styles brought to the table by each individual member, Blind Pursuit is the end result of five people from different backgrounds and geographical origins ending up in a small town in East Texas and magic happening.

Hailing from Southeast Louisiana, Maine, Cayuga, and Harmony, the odds of these five people interacting were astronomical, but small changes had large effects and Blind Pursuit has been a staple in the east Texas music scene for three years now. We recently tracked them down to get to know them just a little better.

Johnny: Blind Pursuit has been playing gigs around East Texas since 2015. What was the genesis of the band and what is the current line up?

Blind Pursuit: Our first show was February 28th, 2015 opening for our good friends Blacktop Mojo at Click’s Live in Tyler.

Our current lineup includes Marc Mitchell on drums, Craig Jones on bass guitar, John Reed on lead guitar, Katie Reed with lead vocals, and Michael Jones on lead vocals and acoustic guitar.

Craig and Katie hail from Cayuga, Texas. John was raised right down the road in the Harmony Community just outside of Palestine. Marc migrated from the great state of Maine; and Mike spent most of his time about 45 minutes southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been in Texas since 1998 and spends his time filling in behind the bar at Pint & Barrel Drafthouse in Palestine, and working construction. He met John and Katie again in 2013. John and Katie own Reed Construction where John builds custom homes and Katie does interior design. Craig owns Oak Floor Supply in Tyler, Texas and Marc is in marketing and communications and sometimes moonlights at the Appleton Coffee House.

Johnny: How about the name – there’s a lot to be said in that name. What does it mean to the band and where did the idea come from?

Blind Pursuit: The name Blind Pursuit stems from the belief that we are all pursuing something, whether it be chasing dreams, running after love, or following your passions; at some point, it takes a blind leap of faith to achieve something truly great. In all actuality, we started with the word ‘Pursuit’ and since we had no idea of how or where we were going or how to get there, ‘Blind’ seemed like the obvious choice.

Johnny: Blind Pursuit has a pretty eclectic mix of sounds in your catalog but how would you describe ‘your’ sound?

Blind Pursuit: Wow! That’s a great question, one that we’ve been asking for quite some time. We play what we love. We are a varied group of musicians with different musical backgrounds and tastes, and we play what we would like to hear if we were sitting in the audience. Our own sound stems from songwriting, which is mainly done by our lead singer Michael, and so it definitely has a soulful, emotional style to it, and has a layered Indie rock feel. You can hear a little bit of our southern influences layered in as well as the obvious differences of having two lead vocalists. So if you wanted to pigeonhole us into a specific genre, I would say we fall into the Indie Rock genre, just because it encompasses such a wide variety of sounds and musical stylings.

Johnny: How much of your show is covers versus originals these days?

Blind Pursuit: After the release of our debut album “Offramp,” we do about ¾ covers and the rest originals. New material is constantly being added and we hope to shift the number of originals to a larger segment of the show.

Johnny: About how many shows does the band try to play a month?

Blind Pursuit: We’re currently averaging five shows a month but we are always looking to add to that.

Johnny: Are most of the gigs in the east Texas area or do you travel out of the area?

Blind Pursuit: The majority of our shows are in East Texas. We do travel to north and central Texas on occasion and we are hoping to broaden our travel radius this year.

Johnny: What are you most proud of as a band?

Blind Pursuit: Our album, without a doubt. We feel like it is such an outpouring of who we are and our evolution over the past couple years. It’s like we have given birth to our own child. So much love, nurturing and hard work has gone into this project. Our resources and time have been singularly focused towards this and we could not be prouder of how it has turned out. We worked with so many great musicians and our Producer, Phillip Moseley was a great asset. They have been invaluable in helping us birth this album.

Johnny: What has been your favorite moment, on stage or off, as a group so far?

Blind Pursuit: I think it has been a thousand small moments of connection with our fans. We’ve heard stories where our songs touched someone going through a divorce, or something we sang really resonated with someone going through a tough time, and you just stop for a second after the mad rush and adrenaline goes away, and you think about how you’re affecting people and the connections you’re making. When we see people singing along with our songs, grabbing their person and dancing, when you see an emotional reaction – that’s the good stuff, the reason we do what we do.

Johnny: What is in the works for the year?

Blind Pursuit: We’ve got another handful of songs and hopefully, that will translate into a new project as well. Whether the next step is an EP or a full-length album is yet to be determined.

Johnny: What’s in the water down in Palestine, between Blind Pursuit, Blacktop Mojo, Kolby Cooper, and others… seems like Palestine has become a serious music town. What’s your take on it?

Blind Pursuit: Every once in awhile, “magic” happens in the most unlikely of places. If you’ve seen the documentary on Muscle Shoals and the music that came out of that small studio in Alabama, then you kind of have insight into the madness behind the magic.

All these acts from Palestine are backed by the most awesome community of people who rally behind us and get the word out, grassroots style. The people here truly love music and they believe in us, or we wouldn’t be able to do what we love. We have a connection, not only through the town we’re from but through our producer and the studio we’ve all recorded at, Audioworx.

Johnny: What experience do you hope first timers will have at a Blind Pursuit show?

Blind Pursuit: Someone recently left a review on our Facebook page that sums it up perfectly: “Bet you will leave their concert feeling like your soul is a little more free than when you walked in.” We hope that everyone will leave feeling a little lighter and a little more connected to their fellow man. In a world where we are bombarded with distractions, we hope people can come and reconnect and feel more human than when they came in. We hope the love and passion that we have for life and music can be felt and translates well to concert goers.

Blind Pursuit can be found at facebook.com/Blindpursuit and blindpursuit.com.

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