Heather Rice on Heartbreak, Grace, And Her New Album

heather rice

Heather is a soulful singer songwriter, Jazz singer, and activist. Her autobiographical song compilation, "Heather Rice", was released on New Year's Day 2015. Heather believes that God speaks to us through music with great love. She is grateful to be a small part of that conversation and feels "So Much Grace".

She has recently opened for Joan Osborn, Lee DeWyze, and Sheryl Crow and is a regular at the esteemed Bosendorfer Lounge at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Heather is a member of the Soul Miner's Band at Summit Church in Orlando, FL where she resides with her husband Shawn and labrador Red

Hallels:  Heather, thank you for your time.  For our readers who may not be familiar with you, tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you, too. I'm so excited to speak with you! Well, I have an extensive musical background in Jazz and theatre. I started writing about ten years ago, but it wasn't until recently that I had the burning desire to write about my relationship with God. It's been a beautiful journey.

Hallels:  Your Christian self-titled record came at the encouragement of your pastor who also committed suicide before the album's release.  Tell us more about what happened?

Yes... that is true.  It is so difficult for me to hear those two facts in one sentence because to me, they are mutually exclusive.  At Summit Church, Isaac Hunter was my pastor, my encourager, and my friend. At a time when I was desperately seeking answers, Isaac's sermons lit up the gospel for me making God tangible and easy to reach.  Behind the scenes, he was always lifting me up.  He loved my voice and suggested recording a worship album. He saw great things in me, that I didn't yet see in myself. When Isaac resigned from Summit, the church he had helped to build from the ground up, I was so sad, but I always thought he would return to teaching after God had seen him through his valley. I knew only my personal experience with him which was always positive. I was shocked when the worst happened. I actually wrote "Then You Roll" in memory of Isaac while I was trying to process what had occurred. A year and some later, I felt moved to produce the album independently and my husband, Shawn, supported me every step of the way.

Hallels:  This must be so heartbreaking for you.  After all of what happened, how has this helped you in your faith in God?  

Yes, it is heartbreaking to me. And yet I am not his wife, or sister, or mother, or best friend.  I've seen the Summit staff handle this horrific event with such beauty and grace.  And my worship pastor, Andy Simmonds has been a rock for me. I've felt so blessed to have such a solid mentor in songwriting and leading worship. I think that our church family is stronger than ever before and has really leaned into God during the past few years.  I can only speak from my own heart, when I say, gratefully, that Isaac brought me closer to Christ and that closeness has blossomed into the music that I hope will bring other people healing as it did/does for me. How God can use broken people to do great things is a miracle to me.

Hallels:  Of the songs on your new album, which songs expressed some of the lessons you learnt the best? 

I think "Forgive me Lord" expresses the most important lesson I've learned.  "Oh, I feel you in the depths of my dark and deepest sin, when I'm crying like a child and you're slowly creepin in...and gently your mercy washes over me," I have found that no matter what I am walking through, He's there for me. I am always welcome at the throne of God to ask for forgiveness. And grace always follows.  This love is available to every-one, every-time. No exception. Thank you, God! 

Hallels:  How would you describe your style of music on this album? 

So far, it's been categorized as a folk album, but I think it's a combination of my grandmother's southern Alabama roots, and my Jazzy style.  I also love the old hymns and they definitely influenced me. 

Hallels: Which are the artists that most influence your style? 

I've been listening to a LOT of Patty Griffin. She is so poetically honest in her lyrics and raw vocal performance.  She gets right to your soul.  I also listen to Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Allison Krauss, Ella Fitzgerald, and of course Dolly Parton, one of my most cherished mentors!

Hallels:  Besides writing your own music, you have 4 songs on the record that came from other writers.  Why did you choose to cut Dolly Parton's "Light of a Clear Blue Morning"?  

Oh my goodness, why not?! This is how it happened. I found "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" on the radio and it immediately made me think of my grandmother, Nona, and the hope she always has in every situation. She's in her 80's, but is also a child in the way she sees the goodness of this world. She has always been pure joy to me. I thought I could embody that quality with this song. I listened to Dolly's version on repeat. It lights me up like a Christmas tree so I can see the clear blue morning. I think the world could use a lot more of this kind of hope.

Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your music or/and find out more about you, where can they go?

They are welcome to visit to purchase a digital or hard copy directly from me, or they can visit any of the major distributors like Itunes to find it. We'd love to bring the concert to a church or event near you.  It's really a joyful, fun experience!



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