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Heather Myles takes her time

By Jeffrey B. Remz, July 2002

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Myles actually was an apprentice race horse jockey at one point, but left for music. "That didn't sit too well with my family. They thought I was nuts.

She also had spent a few years at Riverside City College. "I was trying to find out what I really wanted to do.

"I never really considered horses full time. I never really did it because I wanted to do it. I'm doing it because I'm the lightest one in the family. Everyone else is overweight. You have to be under 120 pounds to be a jockey. I was a good jockey. I definitely inherited that from my grandfather who was a terrific jockey. I loved horses, the ranch. It's just not that I did not want to do that for the rest of my life. I wanted to do music. Something drew me to that spotlight. There was something that drew me to music.

Myles hit area honky tonks. "Nothing but cowboys," says Myles of one joint in Chino, a dairy farm area. "I played some pretty rough honky tonks. I played some pretty great honky tonks because I could do pretty much whatever I wanted to do.

She did originals and covers, some "very obscure country songs. I always did exactly what I wanted to do, and oddly enough, people really liked it.

"I really enjoyed those times. Those were great learning experiences. That's how I learned how to play guitar, bass.

Myles' first break was appearing on a HighTone Records compilation, "Points West: New Horizons in Country Music" in 1990 with "Rum and Rodeo" and "Lovin' the Bottle" and other artists appearing like Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Buddy Miller.

That eventually led to her debut, "Just LIke Old Times" in 1992 and a follow-up, "Untamed" in 1995.

The albums received good press, but Myles complained that one of the problems of being on HighTone was the inability to find the record in stores.

HighTone executive 'Larry Sloven told Myles, "'we've taken you as far as we can take you. I think you've got a shot to maybe break in the big time, but you've got to have more financial backing, and we just can't do that.' They tried.

That led to Rounder. Myles previously had tried, mailing a demo. She heard back from Rounder honcho Ken Irwin saying he loved it, but the label was bluegrass oriented.

After her contract with HighTone expired, Myles was ready to split. She contacted Irwin again. "Are you ready yet?" Myles asked. Irwin said he was, but "he said I want to do a real honky tonk album. As honky tonk as you can do it. I said okay.

The result was "Highways & Honky Tonks" in 1998 with the usual assortment of honky tonkers and shuffles and a cover of "Kiss An Angel Good Morning.

Myles had a good career going in Europe as well where she lived off and on for four years in London.

Myles never tried the major label route. "I could see the writing on the wall about 10 years ago. I'm not going in that direction. I thought maybe, just maybe, by sticking to my guns and doing my own thing, (I'd be) getting recognition on my own.

Myles can't claim to be a starving artist at least. She has homes in Florida, Riverside, Nashville and London and a boat she often lives on in Marina del Rey, Cal.

"Everything that I have acquired has been because of financial planning. I have not received a nickel from my parents. I do have a lot of real estate. I've done well in the music business because I've done it wisely. When I played Europe, I kept my fees up and did not want to overexpose myself there.

And with the money she made, she would buy property.

"I knew in order to do this music business right, I knew I'd have to have some sort of income," says Myles, who had just hit the Mississippi border. "It's a very tenuous business. I'd have highs and lows. During the lows, I wanted to be able to sustain my lifestyle. It's been tough. It's been a real struggle.

Myles, of course, still hopes for a higher musical profile.

Her last album "put me on the map so to speak. That album really got me out there.

"Now, I'm hoping with this album that I can really do something. I have big expectations. I'm going to really try hard to have some sort of radio success with this album. I just want to reach as many people as I can. I've learned a lot about this business in the past 10 years, and I'm going to try everything.

"I still believe that I can express myself musically better than I can in person, in conversation. My songs are to me what canvas is to an artist. I'm going back to being a little bolder, a little braver, I'm saying a little more in my songs. Six years ago, I would have been afraid to put 'Nashville Goes Hollywood' on a record. Now, you can take it or leave it. Take off the Manuels, the boots and the rhinestones. This is Heather Myles. I hope you like it. I hope you enjoy my records. I can't please everybody. I can't please anybody. I can't any more. I just hope it's well received."

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