Texas writer Heather Bishop is a vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Her current work is best described as roots music, with songs that linger at the crossroads of blues, rock, soul, and country. As a guest artist, she has contributed vocals, strings, and percussion in genres ranging from rock to reggae, bluegrass to metal, folk, Americana, and everything in between.
At times in her career, the notoriously performance-shy Heather Bishop has been compared to Ani DiFranco, Tina Turner, and even Richie Havens. This comes as no surprise to close friends and fans. Her songwriting and performances are at once bold yet subtle, cool yet impassioned. The contrast between this, however, and her soft spoken way of moving through the world has long been a source of surprise for new audiences. “THAT came out of her?” is a commonly expressed sentiment by those hearing her for the first time.
Her simple stories of the human experience speak of commonality even as they strike unique chords in audience memory. In response to her preference to be mixed low in productions, former SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke (1961-2012) once infamously told her “Don’t be afraid of your voice- it’s there for a reason.”
Composer and guitarist Danny G, longtime friend and collaborator, notes that for many her gentle demeanor simply means that when she performs “the uncork is a surprise.” Danny G is a multinstrumentalist and composer known primarily for his work on bass and guitar. A workhorse musician who tours and performs with numerous bands, his personal band is Ocean of Stars. Heavily influenced by classic rock, Danny plays with fierce intensity yet with dynamic control. His style includes a strong emphasis on sonic texture and atmosphere versus theatrics. A veteran of the rock scene of Austin’s Red River Cultural District, Danny’s additional recorded performances can be heard with the Mother Truckers, the Eric Tessmer Band, and many more.
Whether delicately harmonizing with a Texas Troubadour or delivering a gospel-tinged soulful wail on a rock anthem, her chameleon-like voice can be found throughout the Texas music diaspora, often uncredited. She has trained as a classical violist with mentors from Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. She has also studied percussion with esteemed drummer Barry “Frosty” Smith. Through the Hill Country blues band Old Gray Mule, some of Heather's favorite performances include guest artistry with Delta blues musicians such as David Kimbrough Jr and Cedric Burnside.
Born in New York to West Indian parents, Heather was raised in the American South, These multicultural roots are reflected in her influences- from jazz to blues, from calypso to reggae, from gospel to southern rock and the many shades in between. Through this she discovered the essence of Louis Armstrong’s great quote- “All music is folk music, I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song”. An appreciator of the jazz aesthetic, Heather prefers that no song be played exactly the same way each night.
Photo by Robert Smith