NEW ARTIST SPOTLIGHT:
By Peter Cronin
© 2006 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
Howard was well on her way to a career in graphic arts when she
got sidetracked. Drawn to music since she was a toddler in
Queensland, Australia, Howard got serious when she started
playing in cover bands while attending art school. When she
received a regional arts grant, Howard took the leap, spending
the money on a ticket to Nashville for her first Country demo
Inspired by the
city's songwriting community, she was soon making regular
writing trips to Nashville, working with hitmakers including Rob
Crosby, James Dean Hicks and Terry McBride. She may have taken a
circuitous route to her Country career, but when it comes to her
songwriting, Howard tends to get right to the point.
always preferred a direct approach over a vague message,"
she said. "That's why I gravitate towards Country
American artists Patty Griffin, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen,
Howard's list of influences includes fellow Aussies Kasey
Chambers, Neil Finn, Keith Urban and one Australian Country
singer that preceded them all.
"I do adore
Olivia Newton-John," Howard said. "She is the one
voice that motivated all that I am today in my music."
similarity is hard to miss, and it hasn't hurt her a bit at
home, where her debut single, "Love You Anyway,"
gained her a nomination in the 2004 Telstra Country Wide
Southern Stars Independent Country Music Awards. Unlike
Newton-John, Howard is as much a writer as a singer. She
co-wrote every song on her self-titled U.S. debut, including the
leadoff single, "The Long Night," a duet with Hicks,
who co-wrote the song with Howard and McBride. The single has
generated significant airplay Down Under, where Howard's career
is already in full swing. Her rousing performance in the Chevy
Sports Zone at this year's CMA Music Festival was proof that
this Australian import is definitely on the right track.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Who is your musical hero?
"My all time favorite is Olivia Newton-John. I have
followed her since I first saw the movie 'Grease.' I just love
her, and I love Keith Urban's music. Listening to him always
lifts me up."
Which song would you secretly
like to cover?
"'Carried Away,' sung by Olivia Newton-John and written by
Barry Gibb and Albhy Galuten."
What CD is on your stereo?
"Keith Urban's Be Here."
What book is on your nightstand?
"Goldie Hawn's A Lotus Grows in the Mud. It was a
gift I gave myself when I received word that I would be moving
to Nashville. She too overcame a lot of obstacles in her career,
so I relate to her."