Heather Eatman circa. 1982

Heather Eatman returns to songwriting, performing and producing her own music in 2015, following a ten year hiatus. Her first single release, “Angels in the Street” (out February 4, 2015), accompanied by a music video conceived and produced by Eatman herself, shows she has lost none of her skill or original voice. She is, in fact, reclaiming her work for herself – making music and art as a spiritual practice. Of her reemergence, she says “It’s been important for me not to focus too much on commercial considerations. Now, by choosing to keep my overhead low, I am able to create music and art that I can deem a success simply because it’s artistically strong and authentic.”

Always a prolific songwriter, Heather has been collaborating with songwriter and producer, Mark Plati (David Bowie, Elysian Fields), to ready a spate of new music with which she hopes to continue to connect directly with her audiences.

She attributes her willingness to step back out into the public arena to changes in her relationship with herself, her art and her journey, beginning with a commitment to get clean and sober in 2010. Two years later, she was ready to leave behind her 21 years working a “day job” in the design department at the NY Daily News to finally focus on herself and her own journey. “Initially, working at the paper complemented my music career – actually helped support it. But eventually my responsibilities there grew to where I could no longer manage to do both. For quite a few years there, I got to experience what it was like to choose the corporate stage and financial stability over my art. Now I’m ready to make a new choice.”

Born in Jacksonville, Texas, she remembers riding in a shopping cart at the local “Piggly Wiggly” and sitting in the shade eating the pecans that fell from the trees in her yard. Heather also recalls competing earnestly with her peers to see who could draw the best Texas flag. Meanwhile, her “PBS parents” made sure to expose her to great art, music and theater from a young age. Her father worked in the theater and both parents played the piano. “While I didn’t follow in their footsteps directly, I learned a lot from them that I have been able to apply to my own work. For example, my mother was always talking about dynamics in music. It went over my head then, but I was really able to value that later.”

Some influences provided by her parents when she was a kid were The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Sesame Street and Broadway music by Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein. Later, she forged her own path to the Beatles, Stones, Elmore James and Robert Johnson. She also began to fall in love with cinematic, storytelling artists like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Patti Smith and Rickie Lee Jones.

At seventeen she made the huge leap of moving to New York City, attending Parsons School of Design for Illustration, while supporting herself with several simultaneous jobs. Once graduated, in the wilds of the East Village and Lower East Side club scene, she began the long journey to becoming a solid live performer.  “I spent years staring at the tops of my sneakers,” she confesses. 

Oh Boy Records' A & R rep Tom Lewis caught one of these early gigs and discerned a very special talent in the singer songwriter who was still at the “tadpole stage.”  Heather had made up a very rough cassette demo tape which she recorded on her Fostex 4-track. She had hoped to use the tape for booking gigs, not even beginning to consider that she might be ready for the wider world of recording contracts, national tours and TV appearances.

She signed to Oh Boy in 1993 and spent the next two years assembling her debut album MASCARA FALLS, which was overseen by Nashville producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater-Kinney).  It was a “massive learning experience.” She found it incredibly inspiring to find out how records were made and to participate in the process – hearing her songs professionally arranged and produced for the first time.  

In the meantime, Heather toured the US, opening for John Prine and appearing at such illustrious venues as the Fillmore in San Francisco and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  She played live on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (still in it’s infancy) the day her debut record came out. Later, with help from Steve Martin at the Agency Group, Heather had the good fortune to open for Billy Bragg, John Hiatt, Crash Test Dummies, Jill Sobule, Ferron, Donovan, Richie Havens and Roseanne Cash, among others and even once got to appear onstage singing backup on John Prine’s “Paradise” with Prine, Tom Waits and Bonnie Raitt (two other of her musical gods). “I kept looking down at Tom Waits’ motorcycle boot stomping the stage in time and thinking, ‘is this really happening?' ”

Subsequent releases CANDY & DIRT (Impossible Records, 1999), REAL (Eminent Records, 2001) and her side project band with the self-titled DOLL HOSPITAL (Doll Hospital, 2005) were, and still are, consistently met with critical, if not commercial, success. Robert Hilburn, LA Times pop critic, praised her 1996 Los Angeles performance, comparing her to Nick Lowe while offering that “...there is a sizeable portion of Eatman originality in her music, and it will be interesting to see how she expands on that freshness.”

Having awakened from her self-described “Rip Van Winkle period,” that expansion is poised to continue.