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Woman of Indie: Katha Harris – Freeway
As we work through all the submissions and winners for this Women of Indie issue, it has been a true honor to hear such amazing talent. Katha Harris is just another example of the unbelievable artists that are out there just waiting for music lovers to find them.
Upon first listen to her EP Freeway, the assumption is this is an extremely talented country artist working out of the beautiful city of Nashville. I could sit here and make comparisons to artists like Reba, Martina, Carrie, Miranda & Taylor. However, upon listening to these tracks a few more times, it would be a gross injustice to just call her a “country artist.”
Yes, the Texas twang, country stylings and sentiment are there. Each track on this release is about different stages in a relationship, and who pulls at the heart strings like a country artist? But there is so much more here than straight country tracks. Lovers of those big names mentioned above will easily fall in love with Katha Harris, but they won’t be alone.
Freeway was originally released in September, 2010. As stated above, it’s six tracks about love in its various stages, both good and bad. If one were to shuffle them up, you could tell a story of sorts. The opening and title track talks of her getting out of the town she grew up in to find a new life and independence. She was on her way to Nashville as she didn’t want to spend her life following her mother’s footsteps wondering what if. The first heartbreak is that of mom as she loses her daughter. It’s a song of new beginnings and new opportunities though. It’s upbeat, and one could picture many people screaming this in their car as they barrel down the highway away from the shackles of a dead end life.
There isn’t a person who reads this that doesn’t remember the excitement and rush of that first date, and especially that first kiss. In “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” Harris talks of that moment, and while her date is a complete gentleman and she knows his mama raised him right, she’s ready to let sparks fly for at least a brief moment. A country-pop song that is sure to get those toes steppin’, it could easily be a crossover hit as well.
Love is a very fleeting thing though. Either that or Harris has had her share of heartbreak, as “Always Something” and “We Did” are takes on the downfalls of offering your heart to another. “Always Something” takes us past that first kiss to the five year anniversary of a marriage that has been more downs than ups.
There’s always something
Keeping you late at night
There’s always someone
With whom you’d rather spend your time
And I swear someday
I’ll be the one walking away
But when I try to
There’s always something
Keeping me here with you
Heartbreaking lyrics sung beautifully with such vulnerability, you can see her sitting at that candlelit table for two by herself.
“We Did” mourns the loss of that relationship as it paints the picture of two people who know it is over but just haven’t admitted yet. Soft piano playing, strings and multi-layered background vocals create an emotionally vulnerable soundscape. Harris asks why it is so hard to walk away and answers her own question, “I guess after goodbye, there’s nothing left to say.”
When love is lost, a person seeks comfort in the arms of another. “Have a Heart” speaks of Harris falling for a Latin lover with a guitar. She’s been swept away and knows it’s wrong but doesn’t have the will to step away and begs him to leave. With guitar playing like that; sensual, intoxicating and perfectly under-stated, it’s no wonder she couldn’t leave it or him.
Harris finds the blues accompanied with a wicked slide guitar as she finds that he is a “no good, no good cheatin’ man” in “Don’t Come a Knocking.” She finally finds freedom and independence again as she stands up for herself again. The album and Harris have come full circle.
Much of this album, but you can tell in brief moments that Harris has the ability to really let it loose. She doesn’t waste it here needlessly and plays to the material extremely well, but it would be great to get one of those tracks in here to showcase what this fiery redhead can really do. It’s like buying a Ford Mustang with the biggest engine available and consistently driving 45 mph. Every once in a while you HAVE to let it rip!
Katha Harris is a superstar in the making, and what’s great about it is she is doing it on her terms. Refusing to bend to square peg of mainstream country music, she is making a name for herself missing it up and doing what she feels good about doing. She is currently working on a new album due out later this spring and this is one writer looking forward to see where she goes next.
We caught up with Katha for a few moments and here is what she had to say:
Hey Katha! Thanks for being a part of IMR Magazine’s Women of Indie magazine feature and thanks for taking my phone call.
No problem. Thank YOU for this. I’m very glad to be a part of the opportunity. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been here in Nashville and told people about my music and then their response is, “Well, it’s not mainstream enough. I’m not sure where we could use this” So, it is really a GREAT opportunity to be recognized for my music and to have a place that I can be featured. Again, thank you for this opportunity!
Right on! So, tell me about what is going on with you right now. What is the plan?
Right now, we are getting ready to record my second CD and I am still searching for a producer for that. The big show coming up will be opening up for Roger Crigger at the end of this month, March 30th at Exit Inn in Nashville. He is pretty big in the Texas country music scene, and being from Texas, I’m very excited about that.
Are you living in Nashville now, or just performing now?
Yes, I do live in Nashville. I was working at a publishing company and I quit that and then moved to Nashville. Last year, I toured a lot in the summer in Texas and I’ll be doing the same thing this year, so I’ll be back in Texas soon enough.
How is Nashville compared to Texas?
Texas is A LOT hotter! The scene is different though. As you know from my style, it is very different and I think it matches Nashville a little better than Texas and it is great to be a in a place where your music is appreciated a little more.
Are you the main songwriter or do you co-write with anyone?
There was one song on the latest CD that was written by some friends of mine called Freeway that I fell in love with and had to record. On my next record, it will primarily be all me with the exception of probably one song.
Who is Tiffany from TwangTown Promotions?
Tiffany is great. She kind of started off doing some promotions and then realized I needed some booking and management. I pretty much call her “mom” now though because she’ll do my hair and makeup at gigs, get me gigs, book co-writes and other events, and really takes care of me. They are a great company and she is great! She has been a great support. And coincidentally enough, I am actually renting a room from her, so she ended up being my landlord too!
That’s great. I can tell she does a great job. Is it a label or just a promotion compay?
Just a promotion company.
So, are you independent or do you also have a label that you are signed to?
I’m just independent at the moment.
Any plans to seek out a label? Have you thought about that?
I could definitely use the support and help. I think if I were to go that route, I would really want to go with an indie label anyways and not a major. This whole next record has been a growing process. I moved here about five years ago and I didn’t really know how to REALLY write a song until I moved here. The more that I write though, the more I come into my own and write better songs. So, this next record, its going to be even more “me” and I hopefully more of a pitch for something like a label. Hopefully, we’ll get a great response and we’ll see where that leads.
How often do you write? How many songs in a year?
GOSH! What a hard question. I start a lot of songs, but how many I actually complete is a different question. I’ll have a song like, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” from my first record where we’ll be singing it a good year and then one day, we decided before we recorded it that we really didn’t like the second verse, so we just changed it. It’s one of the good things about being independent because you can change what you do and have those changes go somewhat “under the radar.” I’m such a thinker and over-analyzer and for me, it can take a long time to write songs. So, to answer your question….I have no clue how many I have written. Hahaha!
Where is your album available at?
Yes, the latest CD is available at KathaHarris.com, iTunes, and I also have CDs available at all of my shows.
And, how do you feel about giving your music away for free?
You know, the music industry is changing every day and I don’t have a straight answer to that. I think there is a time and place and great promotional value to giving your stuff away for free, but now, if I had critically pinpointed when that would be a great opportunity, I could use that to my advantage, but I have not pinpointed where that would help me out. Every day, you are learning something new and trying to figure out how to get your music out to the masses, and I’ve definitely done my fair share of giving music away for free, but you know, you have to maintain your integrity and value your own music, so if you don’t believe in your music, then you can’t expect someone to buy it if you don’t put a price on it. To answer your question, again, I don’t have a straight answer for that.
How do you plan on making money with your music and keeping this as your living?
When I’m here in Nashville, I have actually been working a temp job and just saving as much as I can so that I can record this next album. Hopefully, we can do that in the next few months. I haven’t found a surefire way to do this solely on music, but I am trying and learning every day on how to do that. I feel that once I get this record out there, I’ll have a better picture on what I can do with this music and the possibility of it supporting me.
What is your main instrument and when did you start playing?
It is guitar, but when people ask me this question is that I can play a few things, but none of them very well. So, I have a keyboard, guitar, and mandolin, all of which I can play to an extent, but I am definitely not a lead player at all! I started on the keyboard when I was very little. My mother started me in lessons and I did that for a long long time, but then I started on the violin, which I don’t play anymore. I think the only thing I could play is hot cross buns and that is it.
What advice can you give to other singers who may not be confident with their voice?
Hone your craft. I started taking voice lessons in 5th or 6th and when I moved to Nashville I continued that and I am still taking lessons. It is a learning process and be sure to stick with it and hone your craft. The same goes for any instrument. And, I think it goes without saying that you should stay true to your style. I could sing Carrie Underwood or Martina McBride, but I just don’t have that kind of range and it is not something I am too comfortable with. Stick with what you feel comfortable with. Don’t try to be what someone else wants you to be.
Who were some of your influences growing up?
I loved Pattie Griffin and I love Reba McEntire. She(Reba) was probably the reason why I moved here. And, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this because it is pretty embarrassing, but I used to sit in my room and put on some music videos and pretend that it was me. It was all kinds of music and I just loved doing it.
What girl didn’t do that?!
Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous.
Who are some indie artists that you love in Nashville?
Well, I’m surrounded by lots of great musicians. Our friends Kenny and Quinn. They are kind of an indie folk-pop-weird quirky thing and they are just very talented.
Is there anything that you’d like to add? When can we expect your next album to be out?
Hopefully, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed….this summer. But don’t hold your breath! haha.
Well, please keep us in the loop about all of your future endeavors, and we’ll look forward to that.
Thank you, and I will.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Album name: Freeway
Release date: September, 2010
Location: Nashville, TN
Members: Katha Harris
About Victor AlfieriVictor has written for several websites, including CWG Magazine, where he interviewed such artists as Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies, and Vertical Horizon. As a writer for Our Vinyl, he continued to cover mainstream music, while also creating the monthly indie music sampler “Back of the Rack.” Previously a writer for IMR, he jumped at the chance to take over as editor when contacted by founder Nate Kieser in August, 2011. He immediately created the monthly sampler “Indie Overdose.” The staff has grown from two to over thirty and Indie Music Reviewer has become THE website for great independent artists and music lovers to call home. Twitter: @Wordkrapht
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