Harriet Reynolds; Ready for a Change in Life and Music
My guest today is one of our Bloomers, Harriet Reynold, an award-winning singer-songwriter who knows her way around the music industry. Harriet has been an acoustic guitarist, singer and composer for over 20 years and has just released her 4th Album, Ready for A Change.
Harriet has spent years performing in the Houston area and all over the country and is eager to get out there and connect again—in-person—with fans and friends in the fall when she returns from a stint in Montana this summer at the famed Stillwater Landing Venue in early August.
She also hosts a regular online Happy Hour on her Facebook site on Tuesday nights at 5 central time. I have enjoyed her show many times and admired how she combines her original and personalized cover material into an enjoyable musical event.
In this podcast we’ll talk about what motivates and keeps her moving towards new musical goals and how she has adapted to the changing business of being an indie musician.
Thanks for listening.
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Harriet Reynolds: 0:01
About what is gone and what will still remain. And I thank God, I'm ready for a change.
Sharman Nittoli: 0:18
Welcome to the Live Your Bloom podcast, where I interview people involved in ongoing journeys to blooming. Sometimes continued, sometimes new, but always stepping out of their comfort zone with energy and purpose to get the most out of life. Today's guest, Harriet Reynolds, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and guitarist who knows her way around the music industry. She has performed on stages from coast to coast for over two decades, and continues to draw a crowd of faithful fans every time she picks up her guitar and walks on stage, Harriet has a weekly live stream show on her Facebook profile called "Harriet's Happy Hour." I have been there many times. She has amassed hundreds of regular viewers with more than 80 performances under her belt on that platform and continues to appear every Tuesday at 5:00 PM central. Harriet's music is carefully crafted to entertain and elicit emotion with her compelling melodies, rhythms, and timely, meaningful lyrics. Harriet just released her fourth original album, "Ready for a Change", and I am thrilled to have her as my guest. Welcome, Harriet.
Harriet Reynolds: 1:37
Oh, thank you for having me, Sharman. This is such a treat.
Sharman Nittoli: 1:40
It is. It's my honor. And before we even start, we are listening to a song from your new CD, or new album, called "New Beginnings."
Harriet Reynolds: 1:51. Song
Let's open all the doors and windows.
Let's say goodbye to all that's passed.
Let the old you out and let the new one in right now.
Let's raise a glass to new beginnings.
Sharman Nittoli: 2:12
Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Harriet Reynolds: 2:15
Yeah, actually, I wrote this, a fan had sent me a little, I guess, background on Irish folklore which I'd never heard of because I've never been there, but that every midnight on New Year's Eve, they would open the doors and windows and let the old out, and sweep in the new, and I thought, you know, that would be a wonderful song, and it kind of goes along with a lot of things going on in my life. So, that's what came to me. Raise a glass to new beginnings is sort of the idea.
Sharman Nittoli: 2:46
Yes. I know I've heard it on your show and I've raised a glass to New Beginnings.
Harriet Reynolds: 2:52
Sharman Nittoli: 2:52
That's what a happy hour is, you know?
Harriet Reynolds: 2:54
Sharman Nittoli: 2:55
I've always respected that you, are really into song concepts and song titles. I think that's why your lyrics are always significant because when something resonates with you, you really stop, and you're like, "Hmm, that sounds like a song." And you're much more industrious than me. Probably, next time I talk to you you've got the song going.
Harriet Reynolds: 3:19
Well, that's very generous of you. The outer doesn't always match the inner practices. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, or sometimes you, as a songwriter, I'm sure you know this, you sort of squirrel the idea away or you journal it or you put it in a hold somewhere, and then all of a sudden it rises again.
Sharman Nittoli: 3:36
Yeah, I write down lines like that. Well, you know, that's where my whole "Bloom" idea came, from something my mother said 25 years ago. But other people too, you know, when they say something, you just get this little buzz and like, "Hmm. That's a song. That's a clever line for a song. I'm going to write that down." I literally throw it in a box and I'll come back to it. And I often do.
Harriet Reynolds: 3:59
Sharman Nittoli: 4:00
So I have a question about how this song, how this album was recorded?
Harriet Reynolds: 4:06
Well, that's a great question. It's so different from my other three. My first one I made in Houston, it was kind of one of those, you know, I have enough songs to make an album. So there was no concept or anything it's like, I made it. My second and third, I made in Nashville with a great producer. But she retired, moved back to Texas, and all the studios were closed when I was ready to start recording because of the pandemic. So I found this producer who was able to work with me remotely. And it was a little daunting at first because I really had never done that sort of work, I mean, I'd done a little bit, but not studio quality work. So I said, "You know, tell me what to buy." So she'd tell me what to buy, I got it out of the boxes, I had a few glitches getting started, but basically I recorded all the vocals and the guitar tracks in my home, not in any kind of really even soundproof studio, sent her those, and then she added all the other instrumental tracks.
Sharman Nittoli: 5:03
Harriet Reynolds: 5:03
We didn't have an outdoor or outsource rather, producer, director, or mixer, and engineer.
Sharman Nittoli: 5:11
And what was her name?
Harriet Reynolds: 5:12
Her name is Katie Marie. She's actually from Devon, England, but has been in Austin, I think, about eight or nine years. And she's a multi-instrumentalist, recorder, producer, engineer, and songwriter.
Sharman Nittoli: 5:25
Leaps of faith, right?
Harriet Reynolds: 5:27
Sharman Nittoli: 5:28
Right, yeah. And you know.
Harriet Reynolds: 5:30
And I think, on both of our parts, because she'd never met me either.
Sharman Nittoli: 5:33
And I love that also, because you do get an instinct later on in life that's a bit stronger than it was in, at least for me, in the beginning. I get an instinct of the people I can work with, the people I want to work with. Yes, it has something to do with how talented they are, but it has a lot to do with how I can get along with them, and how much I respect them. Mutual respect, you know, that's very important too.
Harriet Reynolds: 5:57
Yeah, I totally agree. I think over the years becoming more seasoned and more mature and all of the different things that we've done, the different hats we've worn, I've learned not to waste any time with, other players or writers, or in this case, producers that I really don't jive with. A lot of things in my, earlier in my career, even in Nashville, the players were great but sometimes I felt like it, you know, my songs turned into this runaway train that I better jump on.
Sharman Nittoli: 6:24
It's hard to do that, but you know, you learn. That takes us to, really, one of my favorite songs called "Reclaim Her Time." Maybe we can give a little listen and come back in, and tell us how you wrote this song, where this idea came from.
Harriet Reynolds: 6:42. Song
They say it's never too late to be who you were meant to be, but she's not sure just who that is. She won't turn her back. She's come too far to let go of the line. She is here to reclaim her time.
You know, this one, has a little bit of a Celtic feel as well in the way that we did the production. And I was actually was when I was writing this album, it was sort of an archetypal thing that was rising up. I used to teach at archetypes and literature class in my English teacher days, my former life. And I just got this vision of this woman that was really trying to reclaim these parts of herself and bring them together. And I actually used, you know, the Congresswoman Maxine Waters line, "Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time."
Sharman Nittoli: 7:44
Harriet Reynolds: 7:45
Yeah, all these men were speaking over her. So I thought it was kind of a, for me, it didn't have to show to the audience, but it was sort of a play on those words for me that I was really trying to reclaim my time, reclaim my voice, that sort of thing through pulling together these disparate parts.
Sharman Nittoli: 8:02
And that song. I love that song. And I told you this is because it's right in line with my Bloom philosophy, where in my group of people, I just say, I am dedicated to helping people find renewed purpose and passion. Lots of people put that on the shelf but I, I really believe once they get into it and once they start exploring it they're a different person. Just much more fulfilled and all of that just touches everybody that they meet in a positive way, which we need that right now.
Harriet Reynolds: 8:36
I know, and that's why whenever I see you on my show, I see your name pop up, I'd like to talk about what you're doing and get people to get involved if they don't know your work, because I was really struck by the fact that even much younger people than we are saying, "I missed my chance". "I've lost my opportunity".
Sharman Nittoli: 8:57
Another thing they will say, and I recognize this so strongly when I'm thinking of one person in particular, "I can't do that until I drop 20 pounds." "I can't drop 20 pounds until I have time to shop for food." "I can't make time to shop for….." And on and on and on. And I think I used to be like that. I used to have everything else be the reason why I wasn't doing that thing. And even though I'm not always as dedicated and on top of it as I like, I'm just so aware of when I make those excuses that just don't serve me.
Harriet Reynolds: 9:34
Yeah, I think that's true. And I think we also need to do things to make it easier for ourselves. You know, I once heard it at the school where I taught a Harvard professor who taught a course on happiness.
Sharman Nittoli: 9:44
Harriet Reynolds: 9:45
And the course was just oversubscribed and audited by thousands of people. And one of the things he said was, you know, he wanted to get back into running, but he would say, "Well, I need to do this and do that." And he said he started with a simple step of putting his running clothes in his shoes by his bed.
Harriet Reynolds: 10:01
You know, and then somebody else said “I wanted to learn to play guitar. I wanted to pick it back up again”. Well, take the guitar out of the case and put it in your room where you see it. So that's been one of the things that's been good for me when I get into those, "I can't do this before I do that."
Sharman Nittoli: 10:17
Yeah, and I'm a big believer of a powerful 20-minutes that just gets everybody can put 10, 20 minutes into a task or a hobby, or a joy. Of course, it very often turns in to be a half hour or an hour. But if you just commit, I'm going to do this three, four days a week for 20 minutes. At least you're starting to form a new habit that has to do with you. It's all about you. You know, just feeding your soul, you know?
Harriet Reynolds: 10:44
Yeah, and put it in your calendar just like you would do your dentist's appointment or, you know, going to see your CPA or picking up your child at school, or whatever it is. Just put it in your calendar and you wouldn't let yourself down anymore than you would let a friend down that you were supposed to be for coffee, right?
Sharman Nittoli: 10:58
Right, yeah, so these songs were written, were they a collection? How they were written? Or did you have the theme going and then decide they worked together well for the next CD?
Harriet Reynolds: 11:11
You know, that's a great question. It was not thematically done, but at the time that I did it, which was more or less from January through, I would say, March, when the pandemic actually hit. I was planning to write and not go out and play. I was writing for an album, but as it turned out under the circumstances, they all started kind of weaving together for me. I've never intentionally decided I'm going to write a song about whatever it is. You know, in Texas, I'm going to write a song about trucks or an album about trucks. But it did sort of have a theme to me, it sort of presented, it rose up sort of like those disparate parts in the ocean that the girls gather with a net, and it thought, you know, I'm really ready for this latest change in my life.
Sharman Nittoli: 12:00
Yeah, you sound it. Yeah, and that takes us to another song. I love this song. If we can give a little listen to, "What's Up With That?" This song just makes me smile.
Harriet Reynolds: 12:10 Song
Now you come home and you say,
"What have you done on for me today?"
What's up with that? Oh, what's up with that?
You know, this was so much fun to write, and it was during that time I was writing everything. And I think this one started with a progression. I'd already dropped the D on my guitar to be in another song and I had the capo. And I wanted it, and I thought, well, you know, I don't know, it just sort of came to me. And then, I started thinking about all the ways that I, as a woman, feel like over time. My voice has been squelched a little bit, or that anyone who's in a situation feeling less than powerfully speaking. So I kind of thought of three different scenarios. You know, the one is the housewife who's stuck at home, and the next one is the, you know, the idea of, because I remember hearing many, "Oh, you're too young. Just wait." Now, well, you're a little old for that, so you never can hit the right sweet spot when you're waiting for external permission, I suppose, you should say. And then the third one was really about work because I used to often find myself in team meetings, department meetings, at where I taught with a lot of men. And I could say one thing and they wouldn't say anything, and the next guy would say the same thing I said. And then the person leading the meeting would say, "Well, that's a fabulous idea, John."
Sharman Nittoli: 13:38
Where did I hear it before?
Harriet Reynolds: 13:39
I know, I'm sure your listeners can relate, but the fun thing for me about this song, just doing it is that Katie Marie, she did all the background vocals her instruments.
Sharman Nittoli: 13:49
Harriet Reynolds: 13:50
And I heard the first rough mix of it. And then, you know, she would send me a rough mix and I would talk to her. We'd go back and forth with comments and she'd tweak here and there. And I heard that chorus and I had just started giggling with delight, I said, "That is the coolest chorus."
Sharman Nittoli: 14:05
Harriet Reynolds: 14:05
And I was like, "Oh my God, this is awesome. I just really can't wait for people to hear that." So I was pretty tickled. I thought it hit just the right musical nuance that fit with the song.
Sharman Nittoli: 14:16
You're so lucky that you were so pleased and you clicked with your producer. She sound very talented and totally in sync, you know. Of course, I heard a lot of these songs on your regular Tuesday night, the show that you do, and you're pretty much there every week. You know, yeah, I admire your discipline. You enjoy it, I see that. But I like that's the first time I heard this song when I smiled. So how have you adapted to that medium for performance?
Harriet Reynolds: 14:47
Well, it's been interesting. I had a lot of help, a little technical help and a lot of encouragement and support from people in some networking groups that we all formed during the pandemic. And they were like, "You know, you can do this." "You can do that." And I didn't intend for it to be more than a few weeks. I mean, many of us thought we'd be, you know, not performing for five or six weeks and that'd be the end of that. So I started it and then I sort of amassed this audience, and then they started saying, "Oh, you have to keep doing this." And I am glad that I've done it because when I start back in more live shows and out promoting this album. I really wouldn't have lost a lot of chops, you know, from having to play and, and, and come up with a show every week because I try to make it more of a show and not just, "Well, what am I going to play tonight?"
Sharman Nittoli: 15:35
And you also do other people's material in your own way.
Harriet Reynolds: 15:40
Yes, I do speaking of Sharman.
Sharman Nittoli: 15:43
Harriet Reynolds: 15:43
You said that you felt that perhaps I could do your song, “Shaken not Stirred”.
Sharman Nittoli: 15:47
Yeah, I think you could do a very good job with that. Yeah, I could hear you on the guitar. That's because when I do it, I wouldn't do that as a jazz tune.
Harriet Reynolds: 15:50
Oh really? Wow.
Sharman Nittoli: 15:56
I wouldn't, to me, it's an RnB kind of, you know, as much as I like playing it on piano, I, I hear it on guitar, really.
Harriet Reynolds: 15:50
Well, send me a demo or rough copy or whatever. Because I'd love to do it with your lyrics because, boy, your stuff is great. I loved your show when you did it, but you're so busy with so many other things.
Sharman Nittoli: 16:19
I'll send it to you. I have a lead sheet. I would love it if you would do it. Yeah, that would be an honor.
Harriet Reynolds: 16:15
Yeah, because I'm thinking about going back in my summer season, one of the shows I'd like to do is take all of those women that I featured in my, I think it was my spring or my, or could have been my winter. I think it might was my winter series, I can't remember now. They all run together. But each week I featured one woman, a few known, but mostly unknown, independent artists that I thought that everybody should hear. So I would love to do yours. That would be awesome.
Sharman Nittoli: 16:46
Right, we'll talk about that. I'll commit. Okay, so now, do you have any live concerts coming? Because I know you've done them. Anything coming up? Any live concerts?
Harriet Reynolds: 16:56
I do. I'm going to be doing one here. I'm up in Montana as we speak. I'm doing one, August 7th at this beautiful amphitheater. It's a collection of artists from the area, as a big benefit for the music school here. They really have an amazing music school for a small town. And it's on a beautiful, big amphitheater stage with this beautiful lake behind it, with people kayaking in the mountains behind it.
Sharman Nittoli: 17:19
Harriet Reynolds: 17:20
A really nice sounds. I'll be working with the house band there. There's a great keyboard player that leads the band who's really, really good, a good singer-songwriter himself. I'm doing that one. I've got a big show coming up in October in Houston, Texas. There's going to be a big house concert, but it's a long-term fan whose wanting to do this a long, long time. She runs a bank, a regional bank, and she's really been waiting to do that. And then I'm gonna work on, I'm in the process of working on filling in some dates when I get back to Texas in September.
And I think I'm probably not going to leave the state until the spring, as you know, you can kind of tour for quite a while on a new album, and you know, I think that I'll do this and then perhaps leave the state and do some work in the spring in other parts of the country.
Sharman Nittoli: 18:04
You know, also, Harriet, your music is timeless, really. As I listen to the song concepts, because I have two or three of your CDs, they’re timeless songs. They are going to slip in and out of being totally appropriate to what's going on, which is great for you, kind of sad that things are not evolving better than they are. For those of us who lived through the sixties and seventies and were involved with protest movements back then, we see the difference. There's a big difference between using your voice to effect change. And now, what's going on now? And I don't wanna get political right now, but I just do see such a difference, maybe a clearer sense of right and wrong. I don't know. But, you do write a lot about it.
Harriet Reynolds: 18:50
You know, I haven't always done that in my career. I used to write a lot more love songs, or more aptly, unrequited love songs.
And a lot more personal things. I mean, these are personal too. You know, what is it, Emerson says about the personal and the particular is really the universal. And, yeah, I think I've come to see that when I'm writing about these things, it's not just that about what's going on in the world. I don't feel that that I'm just the only person feeling them. I talk to so many other people, especially other musicians and artists, and people out there in the world that are thinking these same things. And they certainly are all answers. In fact, I'm working on a brand new one now that's sort of a blues song that kind of came out of nowhere. That's really more like a lament. There's not going to be an answer, but it's about especially having taught school before.
Sharman Nittoli: 19:39
Harriet Reynolds: 19:39
Thinking about all these shootings and things, and again, not to get political, but you know, I think I'm just going to call it how long. It's like, "How long are we going to let this keep going on?" So anyway, I'm not really looking at the zeitgeist, but hopefully I'm in touch with my own feelings enough and the feelings of others that they just end up coming out in these songs. So I do seem to be moving a little bit more in the social justice realm.
Sharman Nittoli: 20:05
Yeah. Well, that's the arts. You know, the arts have always reflected what's going on socially, politically, and they do now as well.
Harriet Reynolds: 20:14
Sharman Nittoli: 20:14
Many of our listeners are also reviving or nurturing dream seeds that they've buried for too long. And they really believe it's too late. And of course, I don't. Unless you're saying you want to be a brain surgeon, that could be a problem, you know, or a Rockette, that could be a problem. But you can still dance, you know? But in any artistic endeavor, we often experience insecurities and that old nemesis, the inner critic, just sitting on our shoulder, questioning the value and quality of what we're doing. It's very, very easy to get sidetracked. Days turn into weeks, turn into months, turn into years. And I hear so many stories of people saying, "I wanted to write this book for 20 years and finally we're doing it," you know? Do I know where it's going to go? No, I don't. I can't guarantee a Pulitzer Prize. I can't guarantee an agent, but I can say you will feel so good for having done it, you know? Got any advice for them.
Harriet Reynolds: 21:21
Wow. I should be the poster child for starting and restarting, and restarting and reinventing.Yeah, because I always call teaching my accidental career. Although I, I loved what I did in teaching English, and a lot of writing and creativity. But, you know, I always went with what worked, you know, economically and other ways. And I've found the last few years of teaching, I had on more and more responsibilities, and I couldn't just so easily do gigs on the side, or do recording in the summer, and that sort of thing. So, I am living proof that, having retired from one career, you can either really go to a new one that you've always dreamed of. Or that you can revive one that's been a little bit dormant, because that's been my experience. So now when people ask, if they ask, if I'm retired, I'm like, "Well, I'm retired from one gig, but I'm reviving my music career." And I say that I'm, you know, did music full time. I'm not the way that I used to be when I was singing, you know, six nights a week in clubs, but I'm finding myself able to do that. And again, I don't think you have to be retired, or independently wealthy, or self-employed to be able to do it. I don't think you have to be that kind of entrepreneur, but I do think people's dreams do keep bubbling up, and they're going to be there whether you nurture them or not. And they're going to come tapping you on the shoulder, and then maybe the next time they're gonna be hitting you over the head.
Sharman Nittoli: 22:47
And that's why we're listening to, and we're going to go out with this song, "True North," because it's so appropriate to follow your true north, right?
Harriet Reynolds: 22:57
Sharman Nittoli: 22:58
Well, listen, all of your information is going to be on the page. I invite people to go to your website, subscribe to your newsletter, check out your Facebook. I promise you that will be an enjoyable happy hour on a Tuesday night, mountain time, five o'clock for me at six o'clock. So it's really quite perfect. I have my dinner and then I have my little cocktail after that. And of course, there'll be information on the site about where they can listen to more of your music and enjoy it, and make a good investment and buy it.
Harriet Reynolds: 23:33
Ah, thank you.
Sharman Nittoli: 23:34
Yeah, oh, I also want to say that there's a new thing they're doing now, where we used to have the album, and we used to have liner notes, and we used to read all the lyrics, and it was a big part of buying an album. Big joyful part. And now a lot of people do little booklets that are really quite lovely, and you did one. I bought that one a couple weeks ago. It's just beautiful. You have your lyrics, the comments about each song, gorgeous pictures.
Harriet Reynolds: 24:04
Yeah, I'm so glad that you like it. I'm so glad you reminded me of that I'd never done one before. And several people have always said, "Well, you should publish your lyrics in some way." And I just happened to ask my designer of the CD if he'd ever done those. And he said he did them for a lot of other musicians. And it was his term, "Well, Harriet, this is a lyric companion book." And I said, "Well, that sounds fabulous."
Sharman Nittoli: 24:26
And what is his name?
Harriet Reynolds: 24:28
His name is Charl Kroeger. He's originally South African, but he has Cheryl Kroger, CK Designs, I believe is his company. He also hosts - we didn't talk about this earlier- but he also hosts an artist once a month. And he had a regular show called "Bakery Lofts Concerts in Jersey City" that I was looking up to play in 2019, when I was touring on my last album. And he's going to try to revive it in Long Beach. So he's asked me to play, and if you ever get out that way, you would be a fabulous guest as well.
Sharman Nittoli: 25:00
I would love it. You know, I did so much carrying around of equipment that... I mean, I can't even tell you. I always say "Listen, I was a keyboard player in the eighties…..
Harriet Reynolds: 25:09
Sharman Nittoli: 25:09
….Say no more." I had the PV amp with the black widow speaker and stacked keyboards, and those days are gone. You know, I have my keyboard and small, small bow system. And I don't even like bringing that. So, you know.
Harriet Reynolds: 25:26
Oh boy, I hear you. Yeah, it's really nice just before I played that gig, because these guys have a lot of people coming in from Nashville. They had just bought a sound system. So they have the sound system.
Sharman Nittoli: 25:35
Harriet Reynolds: 25:36
I have a bigger one and a smaller one. And I'm with you, it's like, "What is that joke about that musicians are the only people that have thousands of dollars' worth of equipment and spend all this money on gas and whatever to pay a $50 gig?"
Sharman Nittoli: 25:49
It's so true. Oh yeah. I know we could talk about those days.
Harriet Reynolds: 25:53
Well, we could, we could.
Sharman Nittoli: 25:55
But listen, thank you so much for coming. We've been talking about doing this for a while. I just think you are just a wonderful guest, inspirational. And besides all that, it's a great CD, great music, you will definitely enjoy it. It's a work of art. Thank you so much.
Harriet Reynolds: 26:28
Thank you for having me. And that's a great compliment coming from another great musician.
Sharman Nittoli: 25:55
Thank you, Harriet.
Harriet Reynolds: 26:28 Song
Dance away the lost that holds you back.