Heather Myles: California Traditionalist Shines on RFD-TV, on Radio, and On Tour

Heather Myles is such an accomplished horsewoman that at one point she considered becoming a professional jockey. But fans of traditional country have been delighted that she chose to become a singer and songwriter instead.

The musical horse that Myles has chosen to ride for her entire distinguished career is California country, the same world and state that produced such legends as Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Dwight Yoakam, opposing what they feel are the more homogenized, bland stylings of Nashville.

“California definitely has its own musical identity, there’s definitely a difference in the sound,” Heather says in a phone conversation from near Palm Springs in late June.

“The Bakersfield Sound is more guitar-driven than anything in Nashville,” she continues. “It’s all about the Telecaster. That’s the main difference, and even the style of writing is not as syrupy. It’s tough out here in the music business, and we’re sort of rebels out here in California.”

Her music has found an ideal home on RFD-TV, where she hosts and produces “TruCountry Music” from a dancehall in Hamilton, Texas, featuring stellar performances by artists including Jett Williams, Rick Trevino, Georgette Jones, and Myles herself.

Texas and its Red Dirt scene have been very welcoming to the lovely blonde Myles and her music for years. She lived there for a while, and “Pretty Poison,” the debut single from her new album “In The Wind” was a highlight of radio there as the Texas Regional Radio Report earlier this summer.

She also has veteran Nashville promoter Al Moss working the song to Americana radio, though Heather admits that in some ways Americana just ain’t what it used to be.
“At one time, I had a No. 1 Americana record with `Highways & Honky Tonks,’ ” she says of her late 1990s release on Rounder/Mercury. “But in 12 years, things have changed a lot on the Americana scene and there are very few country acts there anymore.”

But Heather has built a hugely loyal following of fans, including so many in Europe that she lived in London for a time. And music critics adore her work, too.

“This album,” Todd S. Jenkins of American Songwriter Magazine writes of “In The Wind,” “takes a creative look at what is really the heart and soul of country music: The hope and perseverance that come along with hardship and heartache. This is TruCountry.”

Another key to Myles’ success is that she’s always been a strong and savvy entrepreneur, running her music business in a professional manner and handling many of the tasks labels normally perform with her own team.

That’s not always easy.

“It takes an awful lot of money to produce the TruCountry show,” she says. “It’s right up the alley of RFD-TV. We show people dancing in a family atmosphere, and with viewers it’s extremely popular. However, getting a corporate sponsor to support traditional country music is tough.”

With the next season slated to premiere in November, Heather would love to have a company like Budweiser or Coors become a corporate partner and sponsor.

Meanwhile, she’s touring both in the USA and in Europe this summer, and Myles has always been a standout performer.

Countless fans recall her opening for Merle Haggard, which she did for four years.

“That was such an honor, since the Hag was sort of my mentor,” she says. “It was scary at times, because you don’t know how you’re gonna be received. I learned to keep my sets very short, because those folks came to see the Hag, not Heather.

“But I won some of those people over,” she goes on, “and half the fans I have now were at those concerts.”

That experience, along with her lifelong love for fellow female country traditionalists including Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, helped fuel Heather’s desire to continue the proud legacy of pure country and ensure that fans know they can still find it.

“I thought about how I could use some of my experiences to help all of us traditional country artists in the same plight,” she said. “So I decided to do a country show and I took a huge gamble. We went to this rodeo arena in Hamilton, Texas, with a bunch of my traditional country music friends who volunteered to play on this show, and I produced it and co-directed it.”

That magical music and Texas two-stepping on the RFD-TV program have been a breath of fresh air for country fans everywhere. And to a great extent, they can thank Heather Myles for that.

As she proudly says, “we wanted to let people know that we are still making traditional country music records.”


By Phil Sweetland | pianopks@gmail.com

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