Joni Harms grew up on a ranch in Oregon where she combined an interest in singing with the life of a cowgirl. She won a talent contest sponsored by the Future Farmers of America while in high school and soon began taking trips to Nashville in search of a recording contract. She signed to record executive Jimmy Bowen's Universal label, a co-venture with MCA Records, and reached the country Top 40 in April 1989 with "I Need a Wife." "The Only Thing Bluer Than His Eyes," the follow-up single, reached the country charts in June. Bowen took Harms with him when he moved to Capitol Records in 1990 and there released her debut album, Hometown Girl.
During the 1990s, Harms maintained her musical career while marrying, raising two children, and continuing to live and work on her family ranch in Oregon. After making a western-styled album for Warner Brothers in 1998 entitled "Cowgirl Dreams," Harms goes on to release albums on her own. This includes a Gospel album "That's Faith" and now she has released her brand new two CD live album "From Oregon to Ireland."
We are so honored to catch up with this talented singer and songwriter for this exclusive Hallels' interview.
Hallels: I personally came to know (and love) about your music when you released "Hometown Girl" which was released via Capitol Nashville Records way back in the early 90s. Can you tell us about how you got signed to Capitol and your "Hometown Girl" record?
It was a "Long Hard Ride" getting signed to Capitol records but well worth every mile.I had recorded a couple of CD's on my own and was playing music at a lot of resorts and writing new songs as much as I could.I met some wonderful folks at one of the resorts who wanted to take me to Nashville and record 3 or 4 songs that we could use as a demo to shop for a record deal.I met up with Byron Gallimore in Nashville and we did just that!One of the songs he found for me to record was "Bluer Than His Eyes"After a golf game one afternoon Byron's Attorney played my demo for Jimmy Bowen.Mr. Bowen liked my demo enough to fly me to Nashville.I had an interview with him and two months later he signed me to his label Universal (It was Jimmy Bowen's part of MCA Records)
Hallels: Was there ever a follow -up Capitol record planned after "Hometown Girl"? What happened after "Hometown Girl"?
There was to be a follow up record after "Hometown Girl"In fact the first two songs released off of "Hometown Girl" "I Need A Wife" and "Bluer Than His Eyes" both went into the top 20 on Billboard charts.Everyone at the label was pleased with how we started off.They were just getting ready to release my CD when Mr. Bowen decided to move his artists away from the MCA building and take over Capitol Nashville.The move took months and sadly my "Hometown Girl" CD was not released until over a year later.They had me go back into the studio with producer "James Stroud." We cut 4 new sides for the same CD and one of them was to be the next single.The CD was released the same time as the single but all of the focus on Capitol nashville records at that time was on "Garth Brooks." My single "Tear it Up" never even charted and I was released from the label along with 7 or 8 other Capitol Records Artists.
Hallels: Over the years, you have done quite a spread of albums. You even cut a faith-based Christian album called "That's Faith." Why did you decide to do a Christian album?
My Christian album was totally dedicted to my Mother after she passed away.She loved that kind of music and was a HUGE reason for my success in music.She and my Father supported me through thick and thin.I was thrilled to find that the CD "That's Faith" helped other's in times of loss as well as giving folks some inspiraton and hope.
Hallels: Let's talk about your new album "From Oregon to Ireland," why did you choose to cut this album live in Ireland? Why Ireland?
"From Oregon To Ireland" has been so much fun!I have always wanted to record a LIVE album and I am very please with the outcome.I received an email a couple years ago from an Irish musician named "Tom Sheerin"He told me his Mother and Father were fans of mine and that they were getting ready to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.They had looked at my tour schedule and noticed I was booked in France that coming Feb.They ask if I would consider coming to Ireland after the France gigs and perform with the Sheerin Family Band as a surprise Anniversary gift to their parents.I had never been to Ireland and I loved the fact that they wanted to do this for their parents.I was a bit worried about how a family band would sound but I decided to do it anyway.To my pleasant surprise.... They were fabulous!!!I enjoyed working with them so much that after some shows in Norway the next July I went back to Ireland to play more shows with them.They has ask how I felt about recording a LIVE album.I thought "Here is my chance" so that is what we did and I am glad!!!
Hallels: What are some of the joys and challenges in doing a live record as compared to a studio album?
I really did not know much about what went into a LIVE recording so it was a real education for me! Mic's were hung throughout the entire theater.15 or so from the ceiling in the audience and several more in the stage area.The band was able to overdub a few of their parts in the studio after the show but my vocals had to stay as they were.Talk about pressure! :)Still.... As I said I am very pleased with the outcome, and so far it has been very well received.
Hallels: On this live record, you did cover songs all the way from "Hometown Girl" to your latest studio album "Harms' Way." Of all the songs in your reportoire, how do you choose the songs to be included here?
Yes.... I chose some of the most requested songs from 6 of my 12 CD's.Then on my way to do the LIVE show in Ireland I wrote the title song for the CD.
Hallels: I believe you wrote one song the title cut "From Oregon to Ireland" specifically for this project, can you tell us more about this song?
I wanted to title the CD "From Oregon To Ireland" So I thought it woudl be fun to write a song with the same title.I ask "Tom Sheerin" (The fiddle player) if he could come up with an Irish Jig to play at the end of the song becuase it was kind of short and would be a great way for me to exit the stage.Hair stood up on my head when he suggested "The Irish Wash Woman" as that was a song my Dad used to always play on his concertina accordion! Always a favorite!(I am sure my father in heaven had something to do with that! : )
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your new live album "From Oregon to Ireland" or find out more about you, where can they go?
Thank you for that question Timothy!Please have them visit my web site: www.joniharms.com Or they can they can go to CD baby, I-tunes and other music sources.