Backstage Pass Radio

S4: E2 - Heather Rayleen - A Musical Gift From Conroe

January 17, 2023 Backstage Pass Radio Season 4 Episode 2
Backstage Pass Radio
S4: E2 - Heather Rayleen - A Musical Gift From Conroe
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Date: January 18, 2023
Name of podcast: Backstage Pass Radio
Episode title and number:  S4: E2: Heather Rayleen - A Musical Gift From Conroe

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Randy Hulsey 


Heather Rayleen Mixdown Master

Mon, Jan 16, 2023 10:08AM • 1:05:42


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Randy Hulsey, Heather Rayleen, Adam Gordon


Randy Hulsey  00:00

I am joined by a super talented singer songwriter that is with me right here in the crystal vision studios. Hey guys, it's Randy Hulsey with backstage pass radio and my guest this evening is a local artist that has shared the stage with national X. And her style of music is rooted in country music. Pop those headphones on because I have the lovely and talented Heather railing with me. And we'll chat with her right after this.


Adam Gordon  00:24

This is backstage pass radio, the podcast that's designed for the music junkie with a thirst for musical knowledge. Hi, this is Adam Gordon. And I want to thank you all for joining us today. Make sure you like subscribe and turn the alerts on for this and all upcoming podcasts. And now here's your host of backstage pass radio. Randy Halsey.


Randy Hulsey  00:53

Heather, hello,


Heather Rayleen  00:54

hello. How are you?


Randy Hulsey  00:56

I'm good. Welcome to my humble abode. Yeah, I'm glad. I'm glad you're here. And I was thinking, we'll see I guess, the first time that I ever met you was at Creekwood grill, we had an opening and I said, Hey, you want to play it? And you came out and play? So I think that was what maybe a month ago or something like that. It's been a little while. Yeah, let's Yeah. Okay. Well, I lose track of time. But so that was the first time that I met you. And I enjoyed the show, by the way. Thank you. You're welcome venue. So what's good with you these days? So right before Thanksgiving, and I was asking you that because my whole family was like hit with the stomach bug that was going around prior to Thanksgiving. So like everybody was sick. I didn't know if you've managed to avoid this whole virus that's going around the country. If you've been well, and you've been out playing and staying busy. Talk to the listeners about that.


Heather Rayleen  01:49

Well, yeah, knock on wood. But, you know, my aunt and uncle were actually on a cruise. And she came home with it. And poor things. I think it was the last day three and a half that she was really filling it even on the cruise just stuck in the room. So she came back from it. And then was was good enough, you know, by Thanksgiving. And I mean, yeah, I've been able to bypass that somehow. But I do know of a handful of people that definitely had some kind of bug going around.


Randy Hulsey  02:17

Yeah, you don't you don't want that it was I was telling somebody at the office today that it's probably been at least 30 years. Since I can remember, like throwing up from illness. Oh, wow, this one got me though. And I've never been sick at my stomach like that. And so it wasn't good. So we had it. And then my mom got it. And it was like, oh my god, like, we need to get you know, sterilized. Like it's and I cancelled probably from the illness and then losing my voice during the illness. I think three weeks I all my I cancelled all my shows. I couldn't sing. I didn't have a voice and, and you know, as well as? Yeah, I mean, that certainly doesn't help a vocalist, right. So


Heather Rayleen  03:04

do you know, Gary Kyle? I just played a show with him. He's got seven kids. And his whole household had it? No way. Yeah, like a week before we played together. And he's like, don't worry, we're good. Now. You know, by the time I saw him, but yeah, I was asking him details about our show that we're doing together. And he wasn't responding for two days. He's like, sorry. Seven kids were all sick.


Randy Hulsey  03:27

I couldn't imagine. So my, my youngest son is living here right now with us. And it was so weird because me Terry and Cameron were all down. So it's like usually when you have a family, and one person is sick, you know the others kind of like what do you need? Can I fix you some to eat? Can I get you a drink? This everybody was down? Nobody wanted to do anything. Yeah, we're all like, everybody's for themselves All for one and none for all. And, you know, you go fix your own food. And it's just like the words right? Yes. Exactly. Now, for all practical purposes. You're a native Houstonian. Correct. And you grew? Did you grow up in the humble area that I did? As a young kid,


Heather Rayleen  04:15

born in Nacogdoches, but I was only there for a short time. And then yeah, I went to school and humble up until about sixth grade. And then we moved to Conroe. Okay, and I graduated in Conroe Caney Creek High School. And I lived in Connor for a while after that, and then moved to spring. And now I'm actually kind of near downtown. A little further south.


Randy Hulsey  04:35

Yeah, yeah. And we were talking a little bit about that pre hitting the record button. And I'm like, That's downtown, just too many people for me, right? Like if that's if that works for you, then I'm happy for you. But Randy Hulsey is not going to downtown at this age. Right. I'm going further out and away from people I think is is how it works.


Heather Rayleen  04:57

Yeah. And I was I do have my complaints that I was talking You know, my my mom the other day, and I was like, Man, I'm used to being able to go to like Target or WalMart, in the middle of the week, you know, like at 12 o'clock on a Wednesday, and, you know, just chill in and take my time and not having very many people there. But like, in that area, there are people all day, and everyone's got different schedules, you know, especially now after COVID, like, you expect everyone to have a nine to five, but really, a lot of people work from home or what to do


Randy Hulsey  05:25

so well. And then you get the you know, being that close to downtown, you get all of the business professionals that are down there that this time of year, you have to go out and get shopping done. So a lot of them probably leave for, like lunch, right, and they go out and go shopping. And that's kind of down in your area. So so that's why probably the facade is that it seems so much busier down there than it's probably does here. Because you get the downtown bleed over the story of your younger days is a pretty common with with a lot of the artists that I talked to, but share with the listeners, kind of where your start came in music, I want to hear your story like from, you know, the young age, this is how you kind of got involved in music, and then we'll kind of walk through that.


Heather Rayleen  06:13

Yeah, so um, I like to tell people I came out of my mom's womb already singing, because I definitely was a singer. Early on, just you know, three and four years old, I was singing in the back of the backseat of the car, and probably making up some some songs back then, you know, just kind of being silly as a kid. But uh, uh, my first kind of instrument that I tried out was was piano and I just kind of, I would just play stuff by ear, you know, Mary Had a Little Lamb or Christmas songs or whatever. And then, when I was 11, that's when everybody was choosing what instrument you know, they might want to play or sports or whatever, and, and it was between flute and violin. And there was actually a violinist that came to our school. And they didn't just play like, regular classical music as a kid. You're like, classical, right? But they didn't just do that. They made all these really cool. Like, like, sound effects on the violin. I remember in the I was just like, yes, yeah, yeah, it was like they made it even sound kind of electric, you know, and stuff like that. Just just crazy. weird sounds and, and I was like, that's amazing. And I remember them saying too, that the violin was the instrument closest to the human voice. And as a singer, that also kind of got my attention. So yeah, I chose violin instead of flute. But one day, I'm just gonna go buy a flute and teach myself to do that and to women. So I did orchestra before Yeah, it was the next kind of step I did orchestra was doing choir too. But you know, choir, you're in such a big group and all of that I had a couple of solos, but I was more more into orchestra, like in middle school in high school. And then I was singing in church too, though. And then my stepdad actually rodeoed. So he would take me with him, and I would sing the national anthem. So definitely did all the church singing and then the national anthem at rodeos. And then I was playing violin in orchestra.


Randy Hulsey  08:04

So the piano, of course, that's, that's what I started on, taken from a classical teacher and spent many years doing that was kind of where the foundation of music came from. Did you ever go as far as getting into technically learning the piano? Or was it more? We've got the piano? Tongue? You're making your own sounds? And then you kind of ventured away from that? Or did you spend time kind of honing the craft of the piano.


Heather Rayleen  08:31

So for a really long time, I would just kind of click click, as you were saying, you know, just like one hand, like two hands didn't make sense to me, like one hand, metally melody, you know, and just kind of picking things out. But in college, I went to Sam Houston State for a violin scholarship, actually, but it was music education, I had to learn every instrument, so I had to do at least two semesters of piano. So I got a little bit more, you know, I already read treble clef from violin. So then I had to learn bass clef, which I was learning that for cello, I had to play cello in school. So I got a little bit more into it. But it's funny that you say that because in quarantine, one of my old roommates left me a piano, okay, like a weighted keyboard is what I mean, you know, and so, and it was nice, and, you know, I would have never spent the money to go get one like that, that had the weighted keys and all that. So, quarantine, I started getting back into school. And I've you know, I'll get into it for a while and then I'll take a long break. And it's hard when you play music for a living, right, but I have gotten back into it now. So I'm a better piano player now for sure. But I there's still a long ways to go.


Randy Hulsey  09:39

Yeah. And you know, what, all the years that I spent on the piano and, and playing. I've threatened over the last couple of years to really knock the cobwebs off the piano playing and start introducing it into more of my show. So there's a variety of piano and then I could go back to the guitar, but I think there's a lot laziness that kicks in, like, I tried to rig, all of the gear that I take to my shows with as minimal as possible. So to carry an ADA key piano with me is like, it's not appealing to me. However, I would love that versatility. I just don't know that I want to carry more stuff at this stage in the game, right? So I may never do that. But the thought is always kind of brewing in my head like, this would be really cool to kind of, you know, do some stuff on the piano. And then next set, do all guitar stuff like it would show versatility. And, you know, there's a lot of Elton John stuff that I like to do. And I would love to play that kind of stuff on the piano, which sounds better, because Elton was a piano player, right? Not a guitar so


Heather Rayleen  10:44

well. And I mean, part of why I picked it up again, was I would like to be able to write a song on piano. Yeah. And I've always just, I strum some chords, and I hum. And that's kind of how I've always written songs. And, and it's funny, I saw a video because you know, playing violin, I follow some some violinists on Instagram and Tiktok. And those things, and I saw a video and it was like, This is what it looks like, you know, three hours of playing violin, and it's like, their back is all, you know. And it's three hours of playing guitar. And it's similar, right? It's a lot. Sure. And then piano, they're fine, right? That is exactly my thoughts when I was like, I'm gonna play piano during quarantine, because I definitely have all the back issues from playing guitar all the time.


Randy Hulsey  11:24

Well, you know, it's funny that they, even though the piano was laid out in a linear fashion, and it's, it's a musician plays the guitar and the piano, the piano makes more sense, because of the way it's laid out than a guitar neck does, right. But they say that the piano was one of the hardest instruments to play, because you're playing, you know, your treble and your whatnot with the right hand, but then you're playing the bass lines with your left hand, and they're both doing something totally different at one time, and it's not as easy as a lot of people think it is.


Heather Rayleen  11:59

Right? Yeah. And I tell a lot, so I was I, for about 15 years, I've taught private lessons on violin and guitar. And I tell my students, a lot of times, you know, especially the five year old six year olds come in, they want to play guitar. I tell them to start a piano first, because it does make more sense, you know, like mathematically and reading music. So I think it's, it's like both, I think it's kind of the easiest instrument to start on. But it's also still the hardest to like, Master. Yeah, yeah,


Randy Hulsey  12:24

I agree. I think it's funny. There's this, this whole thought process that when a kid gets to a certain age, the parent says, we're gonna put your music lessons and the piano is what everybody gravitates to. It's kinda like, if you do a martial art, it's always taekwondo. Regardless, it's never jujitsu. It's never wrestling. It's never, you know, whatever. It's always Taekwondo, because it's so mainstream, and so many people do it. So they gravitate to the, what everybody else is doing.


Heather Rayleen  12:55

Especially if the parents are not musical, they just go oh, what's everybody else doing? Quite sure,


Randy Hulsey  12:58

for sure. Would you say that? You're a vocalist before? You're an instrumentalist? Or do you feel like your talents on your instruments equal that of your vocal abilities? That's kind of a loaded question. But But But I, but there are some artists, and I'll tell you what, there are some artists that I talked to that. Say I play the guitar, but I'm not really a guitarist, right. I'm more of a vocalist, but they just they have the guitar, they play the chords, of course, but they're not really like an astute guitarist, or they're not like,


Heather Rayleen  13:35

well, definitely not guitar. Okay. So I would say I would still probably say I'm more of a vocalist than like a violinist. And the rest of the instruments, you know, piano and everything is just kind of like, I'm still at a beginner level. But I'm violin I mean, I really studied it. But I'm also very rusty right now. Like, I don't play I don't practice as much these days. But at some point, you know what, when I was in college, for instance, I would probably even say I was a better violinist in college. But I work more on singing now. Sure, if that makes sense. So it's kind of fluctuated a bit. And I'm more passionate about singing. Yeah. So


Randy Hulsey  14:11

it does make it makes Yeah, it does. And it makes perfect sense. And the violin is probably much like the piano. For me. It's just something that we don't do in our daily routines anymore, right? We would love to like, Ooh, I would love to introduce the violin into this or the piano into that but we go through our days we get caught up in all the minutia of the day, right and we don't take the time to oh, well, let me knock the cobwebs off of this and when so when even


Heather Rayleen  14:39

you know when I do play violin slash fiddle at my shows, you know, I play so many acoustic shows. So I have to do a loop pedal and you know, guitar first and then pick up violin. So then you have a couple of problems you have Okay, well, is this key that I'm singing in a good key for me to play on violin because I'm not Paganini with long fingers. Sure, yeah. All right. And so there's some keys out there that are really difficult for my wrist to reach. And just to play, especially out of practice. And then okay, well does this song loop and repeat the chords? Well enough to do that? You know? So then like you're saying, yeah, the violin cat gets kind of put to that. Yes. And so I'll show up, it shows sometimes without my violin, because it's also more equipment to set up, you know, then I've got a little board and I really needed a monitor if I'm doing all that. So then I need two speakers. And exactly, we're like, where are you violin I'm like, Well, number one, I can only play violin so many times on an acoustic show solo. And then number two, it's a lot more, you know, setup. And if I'm like, in a small space, and you know, just for two hours or something, I'm like, sorry. Yeah, but when I'm playing full band, I do try and at least play three songs on on violin fiddle just to kind of be set apart. There's so many females and so it's kind of, you know, I try and sing certain songs that I don't think other females cover like so those are some things that are you know, if you can't be the best, at least be unique. That's right. That's right. I'm not Mariah Carey.


Randy Hulsey  16:07

Exactly. Yeah, you have to add your value somehow, right? As a young girl, though, were your dreams to become a musician or at a young age. Were you still the little girl that was thinking, oh, I want to be a ballerina or do something like that? Were they girly girl things? Or did you know at a young age that music was That's my path. That's the way I'm gonna go.


Heather Rayleen  16:31

I always always wanted to be a singer and a teacher. Okay, Isn't that ironic? Yeah. Here I am. Yeah, I don't think I really, I probably, you know, thought for five minutes about a couple of other, you know, ideas with what to do with my life. But But yeah, I always wanted. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to teach. It could have been kindergarten, you know, but yeah, singer first always. Yeah. Always.


Randy Hulsey  16:57

You mentioned it earlier about, you know, playing the violin. Where did that interest in the violin come from? The Duke. Did you just start an orchestra one day and you had to pick an instrument and that was the instrument that you picked? Is that? Yeah, how that became the instrument of choice.


Heather Rayleen  17:16

Yeah, I mean, you know, it was it was between band and orchestra. Those were my choices at the time. And, and yeah, I mean, I had it was either flute or violin were kind of the two I was looking at. After seeing that one performer play violin. I was like, completely hooked. Yeah. Yeah. So I played an orchestra all the way through high school and landed myself a violin scholarship to go to Sam Houston. So that was my main focus through school, because I liked choir, but it wasn't this the kind of singing that I wanted to do. Because I always liked singing more rock room or country and not so much that chorale you know, proper kind of,


Randy Hulsey  17:53

well, everything. Everything that we sang in the choir, most of the time was in Latin, anyway. Yeah, we sang song I remember. So I was in the choir as well from sixth grade all the way through my senior year. And I'm, I look back, and I'm glad that I went through that, because it taught me a lot about sight reading, it gave me experience at ual competitions, where I would go and do solos where I would do madrigals. And it taught a little bit about theory and whatnot. And all of that can be applied to what you and I do. Today, right now, I don't ever profess to be Mr. Theory guy, right? There are certainly people out there that are a lot more knowledgeable than I am. But it's a good foundation, especially if you're gonna play other instruments. Right, it gives you that good Kickstart to get going with those instruments.


Heather Rayleen  18:41

Yeah, absolutely. And even just kind of strengthening the voice. I didn't know that at the time. But it was I mean, you're doing those kinds of warm ups, which I, I didn't ever do again until more recently in my life, but but I was like, Oh, I really should do that stuff.


Randy Hulsey  18:57

Well, I don't know if you're like me or not, I find myself go into my shows. And I'll just turn on the radio on the drive there and just kind of hum along to the radio. And that constitutes as my vocal warm up. But I've never set before a show and went blah, blah, blah, you know, and started doing all these like, exercises. So I don't know what there's some kind of routine that you do, or do you just do you just walk out cold and just start singing?


Heather Rayleen  19:23

I mean, for years, I walked out cold and I mean, and I was singing five or six nights a week cold not warming up just not you never having a voice lesson or anything. But a little while ago, I actually found out I had polyps on my vocal cords.


Randy Hulsey  19:39

Oh, well, that's that's not uncommon by right but go ahead and finish it


Heather Rayleen  19:42

and I mean, but but it was it was looking like I might need surgery. And I was losing my voice after every show. And even right now I sound a little bit hoarse, but it's because I was singing in the studio last night. And basically that was a wake up call that I was like okay, this is my instrument. I have to protect it and I To learn what to do, and they put me in what was called speech therapy, but it's essentially voice lessons. And I even I got to take a voice lesson with. So So Jamie Johnson, I actually played a couple shows with him. And he hooked me up with Wynonna Judds vocal instructor and so I got to take one vocal instruction, you know, from him, which I could only afford one. But it's crazy how much you you learn, you know, from just one or two and, and I've had maybe three or four total. And, and I forget sometimes and maybe I'll just hum on the way to a show like, but somebody told me or maybe I even saw in a video that one of the best things you can do is just those lip trills. Yeah, and and just be really light with it and go kind of all the way up and down and I use my falsetto a lot in your shows you my shows because singing and so you know, I just kind of go in, they call me. My family especially like, Oh, she she can yodel she's a yodeler you know, because it kind of go in and out of that. And if I'm losing my voice, so I'm just tired my falsetto goes first. And so apparently those lip trills are really good for all of your interesting range. And it's very light, so you're not wearing yourself out. So it's good to do after a cold too. Okay, when you're kind of recovering so I've been learning a lot more about that stuff ever since that happened to me because it was a good year there that I wasn't sure I was gonna be able to sing professionally. Yeah,


Randy Hulsey  21:16

yeah, well, good. You just taught me something because I didn't know all that like the trills and all that like I will never do that.


Heather Rayleen  21:22

I mean, I think there's something for you know, everyone's got their little things but that's something that I do try I try and at least do it like in the shower at some point before a gig and then maybe a hum sure, you know, in the car or whatever. sing harmony with whoever's on the radio.


Randy Hulsey  21:36

Yeah, I kind of sing under my voice in the car. So it's, you know, I'm singing along but I'm not like belting anything else just kind of more to warm the voice up a little bit. But speaking of the guitar, you brought one with you. And I was wondering if maybe you would share a song of your choice with the listeners?


Heather Rayleen  21:57

Absolutely. All right, I'm gonna play yeah, one of my only love songs off the album. And now we cut out music video for this one it's called Camorra.



Those days again



just came in



this morning



am playful with






day just seems so



good You're standing



see that



oh, come on



it's gonna be






see you


Randy Hulsey  26:18

Awesome job on the song. I love it. Thank you, I think was that one off your 2017? Release? Following for you? Yeah, record, okay. Can you share with the listeners maybe what inspired the song?


Heather Rayleen  26:37

Ah, so. So as I was saying before I started singing it, that's one of my only love songs that I've written. And, uh, you know, I'm a very happy lucky, you know, person, like, I'm very optimistic and all that. But it's, it seems that when I go to write songs, I'm generating kind of sad or, or pissed off. And so that's one of my only love songs. And ironically, I wrote it when I was single, and living in a one bedroom apartment in Conroe, Texas, like, you know, soon after college, and I think every once a while, like some songs I write for me, you know, it's therapy, and I just gotta get it out some songs I write, hoping that other people will like it and relate. And that was one of those that you know, and I get inspiration from all kinds of, you know, other friends relationships, or movies or other songs like, oh, well, what if you know, you say, like this, and instead of that way, or whatever. So I mean, inspiration definitely comes from, from everywhere. And that was probably one of the first three or four songs I ever wrote, really. I didn't start writing songs really until I picked up a guitar and I was already 19 at that point. And that was one of the first three. And it almost didn't make the album. And it's funny, because that seemed to be one of the favorites. And we actually took a poll on Facebook, to see what you know, kind of people were leaning towards as their favorite. And that was it. And that's why we did a music video for that one. Music videos are expensive. So I'm sure I'm sure if the one


Randy Hulsey  28:06

that you've never done one, but I trust that they are, I can think that there's a lot that goes into them. I'm sure a lot of time spent to so I wanted to go back for just a quick minute and kind of revisit yesteryear. Again, for just a second. I wanted to go back to the Sam Houston days. So you earn the scholarship there. Tell me about the days at Sam, you were you a music? I'm assuming you're a music major,


Heather Rayleen  28:34

right? Yeah. So I was majoring in music education. And I was only there for two years. And I dropped out because I wanted to sing that. You know. And it's funny, because in interviews, I love saying that now, I love saying you know, but it took me a long time to be able to say I just felt like such, you know, just I felt bad because I had a scholarship and I let you know, and then I just you know, I was like, Oh, I'm gonna go back and finish my degree, oh, I'm gonna go back. But really, I was going to like, teach an orchestra in school. And that was never really what I wanted to do. And so and I actually landed a job teaching private lessons on violin in college while I was still there. And this is funny. I was making the same hourly wage teaching. As one of my college professors, no one was to teach private lessons. So he was teaching theory in college, but he was teaching guitar lessons. And we were making the same hourly wage. And I was like, Well, what do I need to you know, I had a partial scholarship and I had some grants. But outside of that, you know, after that runs out, like you still have to pay off for all that my parents couldn't help me work in a part time job, but I had to have a certain amount of hours every week to keep that scholarship. And I was commuting back and forth. I mean, it was just a lot and a lot of times AM's for music education, it takes five years instead of four for a lot for a bachelor's, so, so it was just so much. And yeah, I started doing this open mic and Conor I was just talking about because I played Connor last weekend. And that is where I started, like, I was closet teaching myself to play guitar. And I was still in college, and I was learning a bunch of instruments in college. And I was just going up to this open mic and playing fiddle with local, you know, country bands and stuff. And that's when I first started like, like looking at, you know, these people that are, are making a living or close to it, but not on the radio, you know, and I had no idea there was a level like that that existed, until that open mic, kind of that whole thing. So it blew my mind really?


Randy Hulsey  30:48

Well, there's a lot of professions that don't require college degrees. And while you know, there's this stigma around college, like, you know, you as a, as a parent, you save for your kids college, you know, that's the thing to do. The fact of the matter is college and education is not for everyone, right? Like, I struggled in school, because it was just not, it was not my thing I went to, I went to college, you know, I did all that stuff. But, you know, some people are cut out for that. And then there's others that go down a different path. And I don't think by saying that, somebody dropped out of school at that. Now, if you dropped out in the eighth grade, people probably would look at you like, Oh, what did you do that for? But, but in college, you're you're a grown adult by then like, so it's not, it's not as a travesty, so to speak. Did the songwriting start for you, prior to going to Sam or did it really kick off? Once you got to Sam?


Heather Rayleen  31:49

Yeah, I really, I didn't write an actual song until I started playing guitar. So it was definitely during college when I was learning to play guitar. I learned about four chords and I was like, Alright, it's time. Let's let's try this out. You know, and I also randomly play the very first song I ever wrote, really, it's not recorded, but I'll play it every once a while. Just you know, Hey, guys, just to be kind of silly. Right? Well,


Randy Hulsey  32:17

what's the name of that one? It's called Drive on. Okay. And it's about,


Heather Rayleen  32:21

oh, you know, standard breakup song. Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah, maybe one day I'll record it at least on a video or something. Because I still, you know, I know the lyrics and everything. So


Randy Hulsey  32:34

well, you should I think, I mean, your first song, that's kind of that's what started it. All right. I mean, you you, it deserves to be memorialized somehow, right?


Heather Rayleen  32:43

Yeah. But I always tell people that my guitar writes my songs for me, because I would have never thought about even writing a poem before I picked up a guitar. Like it just none of that stuff. You know, I was, I was always pretty good at spelling. But I wasn't necessarily good at writing, like any, you know, language and arts. Like that kind of stuff. I was also really bad at homework. So I probably didn't read the book I was supposed to read. And then do the homework. So but yeah, I totally needed my guitar to kind of spark that songwriting thing for me.


Randy Hulsey  33:15

You're not the only one that's ever said that. So there's been a lot of people sitting in that hot seat right where you are right now. And there's like five of them that come to mind. That said the same thing like Creek Fisher was one of them. Right? Creek Fisher said, I've written hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of song I love writing in school. But that doesn't mean I like school. It's just like, you know, and then Geoff Canada said the same thing. Like, I love poetry. I love writing. And I said, Well, you were you a good? Did you love English in school? Do you love writing papers? And he's like, hell no, I didn't like writing papers. Right? So it's different, right? It's totally different.


Heather Rayleen  33:56

I can think of some like essays and stuff that I wrote. And I actually tried, which was, you know, it was school. I was never a great student. And the ones that actually tried on I remember getting like, okay, but you didn't follow the instructions. You know, like, Yeah, you were supposed to write it in this way. Like, well, at least I


Randy Hulsey  34:13

told a story. Well, that's what that's what made it and probably not fun for people like us is that they they put parameters around how it was supposed to be done. And if you if you set 20 musicians down right there, even 100 None of them won't parameters. None of them want walls. They don't want to be boxed in. It's the artists. Yeah, it's yeah, it's the creativity and the artist and people like us that are musicians. So that's probably why a lot of people are not big on the whole writing in school, right. I was wondering if you would you mind sharing another song with the listeners?


Heather Rayleen  34:50

Well, okay, then don't have to twist your rubber arm very far. All right, so this is our current single, and we cut this one out Nashville song is called Man Up



you saying I'll be drinking whiskey you I am not that girl boy man again when a man does I'm not the kind of girl



you met a man



I'll tell you right now


Heather Rayleen  36:32

being the real McCoy



when a man does that when I say



honey You're Jaco Chuck. Whoa have you on now you got to sweep me off as me


Randy Hulsey  38:15

great song together man up recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, talk to the listeners a little bit about what took you to Nashville to record the song.


Heather Rayleen  38:23

Oh, that is a long story. But I guess long story short. I was actually singing in a cover band took about a year and joining this cover band kind of as a side project. And I met a lot of cool people and the drummer in that band. And he was Tracy. He had some like contacts out in Nashville, and I hadn't ever really been there before. Anything I always knew I wanted to go. And yeah, long story short, he hooked me up with David Huff. And I went out and I sang two or three songs for him. And he picked that one out of the three, two record that he thought was, you know, kind of like, good for the time, especially as it's been a couple years ago now. And yeah, it was really cool. And I was just over the moon that, you know, I even got to meet a producer out in Nashville, you know, it was kind of a crazy thing. But uh, but yeah, so shortly after we ended up recording that song. And, man, there was I wish I had the list in front of me, but there were some amazing musicians on that on that single so a lot of people that have played for, you know, Keith Urban and those kinds of guys. So that was a really cool experience for me.


Randy Hulsey  39:36

There's not a shortage of great players in Nashville. I'm actually I'll be in Nashville on on Monday. So yeah, Nashville right around the corner. I'm gonna go see a client and we're going to take in a hockey game. It's my understanding that you, you learn to play guitar on your dad's old guitar is is that correct?


Heather Rayleen  40:03

Yeah. So, um, so, so my stepdad mostly raised me. And I do have to say, my, my real father, my biological father did get me a guitar when I was really young, but I just didn't have the interest yet, you know. And so it wasn't until I was probably, you know, 19 I guess 18 or 19. I was like, huh, this guitar just sits here. And my stepdad, he, you know, he could play a few chords, but he just had this guitar synth there. And it was nothing great. I think it was a Montana. So it was just, you know, $100 guitar. But um, I finally was like, you know, I want to sing and I need to accompany myself. Absolutely. And I didn't have a keyboard. And those are, you know, I thought at least way more expensive. I guess it could have done like key tar. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But, um, but yeah, so I actually borrowed his guitar for a couple years. And I was teaching myself on that, that one, until I finally bought my own, which I bought at the music store that I was working at at the time. And I still have that one. And later, my younger sister, I passed along my dad's guitar to her, okay, and taught her, you know, three or four chords. And then she continued to, you know, teach herself guitar, too. So,


Randy Hulsey  41:24

I was gonna ask if he ever got the guitar back. I don't know where it is right now, to be honest with you. And do you remember what that that guitar was that you bought at the music store? Oh,


Heather Rayleen  41:32

the one that I bought was a, an office, red quilt top. cutaway, it's sitting in my living room. It's beautiful. I never sell it. So


Randy Hulsey  41:44

I made a pact with myself a long time ago. And I've been guilty of that, where you buy some kind of musical instrument or equipment. And you say, Well, I don't need it, and you sell it. And then a year later, you're like, I wish I wouldn't have done so the pact with myself is you buy something you keep it? You don't you don't get rid of it. Yeah, I kind of what I do.


Heather Rayleen  42:06

I mean, I just feel like, you know, guitars sound better over the years, right. And even if nothing else, they look really pretty in my house.


Randy Hulsey  42:17

Well, there's a lot of truth to what you just said. And I consulted for two years with Martin and Taylor guitars. And there's there's a lot of truth in that if the tone Wood is a good tone, wood, laminate guitar won't open up and sound better 20 years from now. But if you buy a good tone wood guitar, like Indian rosewood, or cola, or cocobolo, or something like that, the higher end guitars, they will become more porous over time and and open up. So kind of put it in perspective. Imagine going to the bank and getting a brand new dollar bill and how how crinkly that dollar bill is. And then imagine that dollar bill 30 years from now how soft it becomes it almost becomes like a tissue, right? So that's wood. The dollar bill is made from wood, right. So that's basically what a guitar does over time, is it will always sound better 30 years from now than it did the first day that you bought it. So yeah. And a lot of a lot of guitar players or even non guitar players don't know that about tonewood.


Heather Rayleen  43:26

I recently bought a new guitar and and I didn't know to that extent. So I definitely just learned something. But I was looking at one wall. I remember at a Fuller's tire. Yeah. And I was like, Well, what's this wall? And they're like, Oh, those are like used, you know, older guitars. I'm like, oh, so that means I can afford those because they're, you know, they're like, you know, quite a bit older. And you know, I mean, I think they started it three grand. Probably, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna come back over here.


Randy Hulsey  43:56

Yeah, because now you know, the older they get, they become vintage guitars are worth more than you know,


Heather Rayleen  44:04

like, don't even put it in my hands, you're gonna break my heart. That's not be able to afford it.


Randy Hulsey  44:10

It's kind of like putting you in the McLaren and saying here, Heather drive this. You get it? You're not going to want to give it back. Right? And that's the whole idea. That's why people want you to test drive the car, right? Because you don't want to give it back. Would you say that you're a lyric writer first for your songs? Or does the music inspired the lyric for you?


Heather Rayleen  44:36

So I would say that like, you know, my my album that I have out any songs that I wrote up until probably around? Well, the pandemic even. I'll put it right around 2020 Anything I wrote before 2020 I would say I absolutely felt like I needed the music first I needed at least two strong chords and start humming. And then I would just kind of like, okay, what do I feel like my guitar is saying to me, You know what I mean? Yeah. But like, somewhere after the after putting on my album, and after, you know, the world shut down and all that, like, I don't know what happened. But I had a bit of a writer's block for a while. And then once I started writing again, and to this day, this is still true. I was writing just yesterday and the day before I write lyrics first now, and I just have notes and notes and notes of lyrics. And I don't know if it if, if they're, you know, I feel like everyone's different on which one which way they do it. And so I don't know that there's a better way or not, or whatever. But I do think it's hilarious that it flip flopped with full I have no idea why or when exactly it happened. But I do write lyrics first now. Interesting. But yeah, so we'll see what the next album sounds like.


Randy Hulsey  45:57

Yeah, that is interesting. And would you? Would you consider yourself a structured songwriter? And the fact that you schedule time to sit down and write or for you, does the mood have to hit you, and things just happen organically? And I asked you that because I had an interview with Michael Sweet from the rock band, striper, and Boston. And he said, every day at 10 o'clock, that's my writing time. And he structured like that. Are you the structured songwriter? Or are you just like, whether it's 10 in the morning, or 10, at night, it's just whatever you feel like doing?


Heather Rayleen  46:33

I wish I was structured. Because I know, you know, people say it's a muscle and you got to use it, and you got to, you know, just keep putting out songs until you get a good one and all those things. And so, I would like to be that way. I do feel like I go through phases, well, almost seasons, where I'll, I'll write a lot. And then I won't write for a month, you know, but I am constantly writing just little one liners or titles, you know, things that I think would be cool song titles, or, you know, putting that stuff on my phone. But the other hard part is when you are playing music for a living, you know, my hands and my back are hurting, my voice might be gone. So like, there's days that maybe I feel inspired, but I just don't have the time to you know, sit down and really play guitar for very long so that that ends up hindering me from writing as much as I want to also,


Randy Hulsey  47:26

it's like your get up and go done. got up and went.


Heather Rayleen  47:30

No, your little fingers on the fifth show of a week. It's like, oh my gosh,


Randy Hulsey  47:34

they're a little tender fall off. In 2017, you released an LP called falling for you. And then in 2018 a single called Man Up which you just played? Is there anything coming up in the works for you new music that you would like to talk about or can talk about?


Heather Rayleen  47:57

So I was I, I've always gotten a little bit back and forth. You know, people consider me primarily a country singer. But I like my rockin vibes. I like the bluesy vibes and all that and I have been toying with the idea of putting out just a like a four or five song EP, that's more like, rock or Americana, you might call it, you know, or even just singer songwriter ish. I don't know if you've ever heard of Caitlyn Smith. Sure. She heard two albums that she has out are very much what I feel like I, I'm, I'm Mike could do good. I you know, and I do cover songs that cover so many different genres and everything. And once when I'm writing, it all comes out that way. But because of like, I mean, I grew up in Conroe, for crying out loud, like, it's country music, like Central. And so that's kind of why I went that route country was the context that I had. But I've always liked a lot of, you know, kind of rock. And I mean, 90s rock is like where it's at for me. So I've toyed with the idea. So I actually have recorded a couple songs that are more, they almost sound like 90s Rock byte. If you've been to one of my shows, like, especially full band, we will sometimes pull out this song that I another song I recorded in Nashville, that I've been sitting on, because I can't decide what I want to do. And then I recently moved and then I was sick, and then I got sick again. And it's just been like, I feel like I'm just now fully starting to recover from even COVID and all kinds of craziness. And starting to really gig and being able to pay bills on gigs and all that stuff again. So to answer your question, I am not 100% I don't want to lie to you. So I don't know for sure what's going to happen next. But I have some things in the works already. If that makes


Randy Hulsey  49:50

sense. That's That's great. And I think that that's that's important. I mean, your your wheels are turning right is what you're saying and that's that's a good thing. And and the reason I asked that question is because I know you, you play for a living, and you've had singles, you've had an LP. But those were recorded some years back. Right. And so I was kind of curious, I wanted to ask you about that. There's been kind of that hiatus, if you will, about putting out some new material. So I didn't know if there was anything new and exciting coming up for you there.


Heather Rayleen  50:22

Yeah. And, you know, I was singing, you know, professionally for years. Before I ever even put out my first album, I recorded a couple of demos, I even put some music out on MySpace when that was, it's still there, probably not sure. But I really, I did things kind of backwards. Like like these, you know, when I meet younger, newer artists, I always tell them, like, don't do what I did. I was singing in bars and whatever, without a product for so long. And it was because I was a terrified of doing it wrong. And be costly. It's hard to scratch up the money to do this, you know, and you want to do it the right way. And so, um, that's another thing that I've argued with myself on, like, what exactly I want to do and do I have the money to do it the way I want to do it, because, you know, I could go, you know, I could just drop a single on iTunes tomorrow. But that doesn't mean anybody's gonna care about it or hear it or any, you know, if you don't have the money behind it, to promote it. And you know, I've never gotten Texas country radio. And that's another thing that I've been really, it's been on my list of things that I really liked to do, but I'm sure you know, that's not cheap, either.


Randy Hulsey  51:33

No, it's baby steps, right? I mean, you have to you have to do it the right way. You know, your roots, our country music. Who inspired you the most in your younger years?


Heather Rayleen  51:45

Do you mean, artists wise? I'm


Randy Hulsey  51:47

an artist. Yeah. Okay. Um,


Heather Rayleen  51:49

I mean, when I was young, young, I definitely had, I mean, cassette tapes, Shania Twain, you know, the Judds? I remember having Elena's were set once once I was able to get CDs and you know, of course we had Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. But I love I also really loved Martina McBride. Just especially just all around vocal standpoint, she was probably one of my favorite voices. But I also remember having the cassette tape from LeAnn Rimes I remember, she started so young, she was only like, 14, and I remember being so jealous, I think she's a year or two older than me, I can't remember. I remember being like, so jealous that she was already starting her career, you know, at 14 and I was like, alright, well, I'm gonna start mine at 15 I'm right behind her, you know? So, so I mean, there's a lot there for sure. As a songwriter later in life once I was playing guitar and stuff like that, one of the first songwriters I saw live was Shawn McConnell, and he's a Nashville guy. And for those you listening if you don't know he co wrote the song mercy that what was his name Brett young released and but I've been following Sean McConnell for years and years before that. And so I saw him perform in Conroe. And again, it was one of those like, I had never heard of him before. He wasn't like so famous that he was on the radio yet, but he was absolutely touring and making a living at it and so I was heavily influenced by him and I was covering a lot of his songs as soon as I started playing guitar so


Randy Hulsey  53:27

that's interesting. A great artist he is and I was wondering if you have a song of his you might want to share with the listeners I can do that awesome.


Heather Rayleen  53:36

This is reckless love by Shama Khanna.



Stupid cheesy James so with my baby



in a salary









baby piers with chokyi ujs



It all went








Heather Rayleen  56:04

oh man.


Randy Hulsey  57:23

Great cover there Heather talk to me just briefly about the song choice. You know, we talked about inspiration. You said Shawn like what what is it about that song that you love?


Heather Rayleen  57:35

You know, I feel like that one is is so bluesy. But sad, but also a love. So it's like I mean, love is sad sometimes right?


Randy Hulsey  57:48

Things wrapped up into one. It's just so good. It's so


Heather Rayleen  57:51

good. And I remember when I've, when I first learned that one, there was a D seven chord in there, and I'd never played before. And a lot of times back then I'd be like, Oh, if it's not my four or five chord, you know, library will want to do. Yeah, but I loved it so much. I'm like, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna figure it out. And it's not a hard core to make, but just, you know, switching and all that kind of stuff. And so, I mean, I just loved it that much, but really anything Shawn McConnell, I love a lot of his songs. And he does a lot of sad songs, which of course, a songwriters, we can't help but we just love the sad ones and emotion, you know, anything that really evokes emotion, and he is just the best at that. And I've seen him live so many times. Since then, and every time I'm blown away by his voice so awesome.


Randy Hulsey  58:41

Yeah. Well, that D seven is just a mirror of the D chord. Right?


Heather Rayleen  58:46

It is the other way the triangle was reversed, right? It's right.


Randy Hulsey  58:50

Over the years you've been fortunate enough to and they've been fortunate enough to I should say, to share the stage with some pretty amazing artists. Is there one that really sticks out in your mind that when you played with them, you're like, oh, that that person was gonna say guide but it could be a female artists too. They were amazing. It was just like this memorable show for you. Is there one that sticks out in your mind?


Heather Rayleen  59:17

You know, there have been there have been some really cool shows. I have definitely gotten some really cool opportunities. I have to say though, one of my favorites was Tanya Tucker.


Randy Hulsey  59:32

Interesting. Okay.


Heather Rayleen  59:33

And I think I mean, for one, she was one of the first that was like, really, really well known. You know, like, I could be talking to somebody that didn't really listen to country music, but she still, you know, they knew who Tanya tacklers. So between that and then also we played that one at stampede Houston, which is a very big dance hall. I think it was my second or third time to play There is when I opened for Tanya, and there were just so many people there, you know, and those kinds of shows, those are the ones that keeps us going. When people actually there, and they were there early for the opener, sometimes they're not there early night. But that one, it was like they they were there early enough for the opener, not necessarily for me, but they needed they knew it was gonna be packed. And so they were like, all crowded the rush. And I do have like, a selfie with the audience from that. Because everyone is really just up at the stage. They're right up, you know, and that's the ones you know, and sometimes I'm playing shows where you're, you know, there's only a handful of people and I'm like, Hey, do you guys want to come, you know, kind of crowd the stage and make me feel like I'm already famous. That would be fun for me. And we could take a stage selfie, you know, so and she was amazing. I got to meet her. And I almost missed the opportunity because she got on her bus quickly. She wasn't like in the grim green room or anything. Right? She was on her tour bus. Yeah. But the manager, like took me out, knocked on the door. And she was gracious enough. She was already in her PJs. No way. Yeah, she had pink hair at the time, too. And she'd already put it kind of back in a ponytail. But I do have a picture with her on. That's awesome. You know, gave me a little hug. And I gave her one of my CDs and all of that. And it was just, I mean, gosh, I was listening to her since you know, magic, magical moment. Yes, it was amazing. For sure.


Randy Hulsey  1:01:23

That's awesome. Well, you have to take those pictures where everybody's rushed up to the stage. And just let everybody know, this is what all my shows look like, right? This is normal for me.


Heather Rayleen  1:01:35

I mean, wouldn't that be nice? Not the case. But you know, it's like your,


Randy Hulsey  1:01:40

your times, come and talk to me about upcoming shows you have where the folks local in Houston can maybe come out and see your play. I know you have a few lined up but share with the listeners what you remember off the top of your head of what you


Heather Rayleen  1:01:56

said I definitely have a lot in in December. I have some private parties too. I do play the first second and third weeks of every month. I mean for for now until they kicked me out. I'm playing dogwood in Midtown. So I'll be there Wednesday, and then I'll be there for the following two Wednesdays after that. And so that one's kind of a reoccurring one that you can catch me in Midtown. I do play both locations of the rustic. Think the next one is actually on New Year's Eve, but it's an afternoon show. 1230 I believe. So that's downtown rustic. And you know what, I will go ahead and announce a really cool show. First, first time right here for everyone. We just got booked at the Stockmans club at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Oh, nice. Have you ever been I have heard of this for years and years and they are the same. The same people that book that are the people that book like the hideout and like the crowd club and stuff like that. So basically this is are in Nice. Financially get over to the hideout and super


Randy Hulsey  1:03:06

you know, I've heard of the hideout. Yes, I'm not I you know, we talked about the whole lots of people in small places. Like Like, like the rodeo was like, not for me. Like I don't want to be around that many people at one time. So well. Stage will be fine. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You're You're guarded up there. You're your own world.


Heather Rayleen  1:03:25

So we're playing three days in a row for that, which is really good for you. Mike, that booked me. He told me they've actually never had a female artists in there. So I'll be the first female band performing there.


Randy Hulsey  1:03:37

That's so awesome. Well, congrats. Congratulations on that. And I guess you heard that first on backstage pass radio. Where can the listeners find Heather Raylene on social media?


Heather Rayleen  1:03:48

I do have a website, Heather And I'm better at updating my Instagram then my Facebook, but I do have both of those. And so haven't really been banned on Facebook and on Instagram are the other ones. Okay.


Randy Hulsey  1:04:03

Yep. Well, Heather, thanks so much for coming to Cyprus. And for being here. It's great to see you again. I appreciate you being here. And sharing your story and getting your name out there. And I've always said, you know, if you pick up another two or three listeners just from the show here, that's then we win, right? So I thank you for for being here and being gracious with your time. As always, I asked the listeners to like, share and subscribe to the podcast. Also make sure to follow Heather on all her social media outlets, including the website at Heather And make sure you get out there and support those upcoming shows for her and the ban in including the solo shows. You guys can find the show here on Facebook at backstage pass radio podcast on Instagram at backstage pass radio, Twitter at backstage pass PC and on the website at backstage pass Um, you guys take care of yourselves and each other. And we'll see you right back here on the next episode of backstage pass radio.


Adam Gordon  1:05:06

Thanks so much for joining us. We hope you enjoyed today's episode of backstage pass radio. Make sure to follow Randy on Facebook and Instagram at Randy Halsey music and on Twitter at our Halsey music. Also, make sure to like, subscribe and turn on alerts for upcoming podcasts. If you enjoyed the podcast, make sure to share the link with a friend and tell them backstage pass radio is the best show on the web for everything music. We'll see you next time right here on backstage pass radio