J. Michael Harter — CMM’s October “Artist on the Rise” Interview

J. Michael Harter hails from Arizona and is no stranger to the music business. Many fans may remember him from the sibling trio The Harters, but now J. Michael is releasing music as a solo artist. He released his brand new single, “Holy Cowgirl” to country radio and it has received a lot of attention from fans and country dance clubs across the country. J. Michael’s album, “Ride On,” was released September 30th and he is already busy writing songs for his next project!

We are so excited to feature J. Michael as our October “Artist on the Rise.” We recently caught up with him and had the chance to talk about how it feels to go solo, the new single and his other love besides music! Check out the interview below and get to more about the talented J.Michael Harter!

 

CMM:

Fans may know you from the sibling group The Harters…how has it been different going solo?

J.Michael Harter:

It has been a bit of an adjustment; although, I did start off as a solo artist so I think it’s more like remembering the old me. One thing I really do miss is the company of my brother and sister on the road. We made so many great memories. It didn’t matter if we were in some small hotel in the middle of nowhere or in Las Vegas, we were having fun!! So, that’s been the biggest adjustment.

A huge upside to going solo comes on the creative level. In a vocal trio, everyone brings a different opinion and musical background to the group, and each artist has to compromise their own styles to fit the group. Now, I get to call the shots! I was always the most traditional country artist in The Harters, my bro and sis, not so much. It feels great to be able to write and record the style of music that I fell in love with.

CMM:

Who have some of your influences been over the years personally and professionally? How do you think those influences play into your music?

JMH:

Influences come from two sides…personal and musical in my opinion. On the musical side….gosh the list is long. I really love all genres of music and listened to a little bit of everything. From Garth Brooks, George Strait and Chris LeDoux to The Eagles, The Beatles and Incubus, I think my music falls somewhere in the middle of all those.

On a personal level, many of my family members are musicians and music was always a part of my life growing up. My Dad loves music and was always strumming away on a guitar or playing a piano for as long as I can remember. My Dad and Grandpa also played and sang at our family Bible studies every week, and all of my siblings played and sang as well. I grew up surrounded by music.

CMM:

How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard it before?

JMH:

I’d like to say my sound is fresh but also with a lot of my influences showing through, especially Garth and Chris LeDoux. There is a definite western flare beneath all the tracks, but there are also hints of rock, alternative rock and pop.

CMM:

“Holy Cowgirl” is such a fun and upbeat song. What has the fan reaction been to it?

JMH:

The reaction to “Holy Cowgirl” has been great starting on the day we wrote it! After being penned in Alaska, we played it for the other lodge guests the day we finished the track and by the second chorus we had them singing along! It is always a crowd favorite at my shows, and is getting a great response at radio and in the dance clubs around the country.

CMM:

Tell us a little about your new album “Ride On.”

JMH:

“Ride On” has been a long time coming. Since The Harters split in 2011, I have been writing and writing and then writing some more. After two trips to Alaska and a year in the recording process, “Ride On” is finally here. I think this EP was a healing process for me as I was pretty torn up over the band breaking up. The only therapy I’ve ever needed is songwriting (so far Ha!), and this EP represents a rebirth for me. I knew I couldn’t just lie down and die, and if you get bucked off you just have to dust yourself off, climb back up and “Ride On!”

CMM:

How long have you been songwriting? Did you write a lot of songs on the album and what inspires you to write?

JMH:

I think I wrote my first song at about 14. I can’t remember how it went, but I’m sure it sucked! I have been writing songs ever since and I’d like to think I’m getting better at it. I wrote all but one of the songs on “Ride On.” It was hard to nail down the songs for the EP when it came time to record because we had so many great songs to choose from. Good news is they still have a chance to make it on a later album! I’ve always written my best material from life experiences – true stories about love, life, loss and the human spirit.

CMM:

You often write with your brother Scott and he has even produced some of your work. What does it mean to you to have a family member so supportive and involved in your music?

JMH:

My brother, Scott, is an amazing talent. As a producer, writer and singer, he and I seem to connect effortlessly and always have when it came to music. I have worked with some of the best producers Nashville has to offer and I believe Scott is just as talented as some of the industries veterans. We have always had each other’s backs and we always will. That’s what brothers are for!

CMM:

Tell us a little about your guitar and why it means so much to you?

JMH:

My 1982 Guild acoustic guitar is one of a kind! The sound is incredibly warm and rich in tone, but it hasn’t always been mine. My Grandpa handed it down to my Dad and when my Grandpa passed, my Dad gave it to me. So, there is an obvious sentimental attachment there. The guitar is named James Billy, after my Grandpa. That guitar has had my back all around the world. I sometimes think about retiring it so I don’t damage it, but it has really become a part of me.

CMM:

Music isn’t the only thing you love…I heard you love to cook! How did you get started in that and what is your favorite dish to prepare?

JMH:

I love to cook! I actually have some artichokes on the stove as we speak. I’ve taken a lot of Harter family recipes and added a bit of my own unique twists to them. I’m actually working on a Harter family cookbook, but I’m running into a problem – I have never measured any of the ingredients! I just add them in and taste as I go, so now I have to go back and find out exactly how many cups equals a hand full of sugar!

CMM:

What has been your most memorable career moment of the year been so far and what do you have in store for the rest of 2014?

JMH:

The rest of 2014 is dedicated to the single “Holy Cowgirl.” AristoMedia, Marco Promotions and Marco Club Connection are doing a great job and busting their butts on it! We will also be releasing a New Years Eve song called “Another Trip.”

My brother and I are halfway into next year’s album. We have six sides cut and will be cutting six more. That means back to songwriting and lots of time in the studio over the holidays and into next year. This is my favorite part about what I do!!

j michael harter

For more information about J. Michael Harter, visit www.JMichaelHarter.com

You can get “Holy Cowgirl” HERE

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