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Favorites from Kylie Rae

Favorites from Kylie Rae

In the wake of tragically losing an artist in the prime of their career, it is a normal thing to introspectively turn inward and analyze their work through the new lens of grief and loss.  It’s a bittersweet exercise, that I’ve found can also be comforting.  Hearing their voice reminds us that they’re never gone in the recorded sense.  They live forever. 

Kylie Rae Harris will always be 30 in our minds, but her music is timeless. Here are my top 5 favorite Kylie tunes.  

1. “Waited”

The ache of her voice matches the pain of being unwanted. The production builds perfectly and crescendos with that first cymbal crash heading into the second verse. Her Walt Wilkins influence is omnipresent and the impact of this particular song is evident in the fact that upon her tragic passing, tribute cover versions of it arrived from Courtney Patton, Haley Cole and Kelley Mickwee. 

2. “Twenty Years From Now”

When I played this on KNBT with Mattson Rainer a couple months back it led to a riff on modern parenting.  While this song is extremely autobiographical, it’s also universal for all parents in that we all want the best for our kids…and we want them to still think we’re cool in 20 years.  We all make mistakes in parenting and wish we could have a perfect record.  It’s impossible, but love normally conquers all.  Kylie took a very personal sentiment and made it applicable to everyone.

3. “Revelation”

On Twitter, I called this perhaps one of the best break-up songs of all time.  Who hasn’t been in a relationship where you know it’s wrong? You’re looking for the way out and you feel dumb, weak and all the rest.  This is most definitely not what I signed up for or what I had in mind. The turns of phrase and the booming bridge vocals are indicative of Kylie Rae at her best.

4. “What the Heart Wants”

Kylie continually had a knack for distilling the most complicated emotions and situations into something relatable and simple. She knew when to use a big thesaurus level word and when to just call it like it is. On this song, she deftly deploys both skills.

5.  “Big Ol’ Heartache”

What would unfortunately turn out to be her last big radio song was an indication of where she was headed with her music.  She had recently talked about being sonically inspired by bands like The 1975 and Haim.  On this track, she managed to take the lyrical strengths she’s always employed and paired them with a radio friendly music bed. 

Kylie Rae Harris Is Singing With Angels

Kylie Rae Harris has gone to sing with the angels.

She was quintessentially Texan. Talented. Brash. Fun. Passionate. Beautiful.

Our hearts are broken.

Kylie Rae Harris tragically passed away September 4, 2019 as the result of a car accident in Taos, NM.

Cody Canada famously sang, “bad news travels faster than any good news that you hear.”  That was proven true again this morning as my phone began to buzz frantically around 9am and hasn’t stopped as of this writing around noon.  Word was trickling in that songstress, friend, sister, daughter and mother Kylie Rae Harris had been killed in a car accident in New Mexico.  As details emerged, the hurt set in deeper.

Our scene has been lucky over the years to avoid the untimely deaths that seemed to haunt the hallowed stories of rock n’ roll.  From Buddy Holly’s plane to Marvin Gaye being shot by his father and all the crazy stuff that’s happened over the years, we’ve been relatively immune.  Brandon Jenkins passing is the closest, but even that had been foreshadowed a bit by health problems.  One of our own falling victim to tragedy with a vibrant life still ahead of her is a new thing.  It’s a gut punch of the highest order.

Kylie Rae Harris was a product of Wylie, TX.  The type of DFW bedroom community that strives to be great in football on Friday nights while staking out the front row of parking spots at the Baptist church on Sundays.  It’s from that cloth that Kylie Rae emerged as a teenager.  She staked her claim at open mics and campfires.  A big personality matched only by her bigger voice.  

She was charming, affable, humorous, goofy sensitive…human.  

She made those she came in contact with take note.  She followed the same career path so many females in this scene trudge through.  Guest spots here and there, called up on the mainstage to sing harmony, opening spots and the like.  She reached a new level of fame in early 2011  when she was tapped to take place in a reality series focused on Texas songwriters called Troubadour TX. The folks behind this project tapped a wide array of artists to participate that included Cody Johnson, Zane Williams, Josh Grider and a young Kylie Rae Harris.  

Her EP, Taking It Back, was released in 2013 and was the artistic statement she’d been striving for.  Songs like “Waited” and “Sticks and Stones” hit radio and playlists region wide.  She finally had a product to back up her bonafides.  KRH was the real deal.  She gave birth to her daughter Corbie Watkins during this time and motherhood began to inform her art.  She wrote songs with a new worldview and brought her tot along to the gigs.  A single mom living the struggle and singing about it.  Kylie Rae was always taking turns at war with her vices, but it never stopped her from loving her music, career or daughter.  

Family was important to Kylie Rae, and she considered everyone in the larger music scene part of her tribe.  It’s easy for artists in this business to fuel on jealousy and live on envy, but Kylie Rae Harris was always a cheerleader.  She was always positive and always happy to see success for others.  She contributed harmonies live and on record to everyone from Josh Abbott Band and William Clark Green to Radney Foster and Mike Ryan. 

By the time her self-titled EP arrived earlier this year, KRH was at a new creative place.  She was healthy, happy and respected.  Everyone was pulling for her and she rode the goodwill to having her song “Big Ol’ Heartache” become a radio hit.  The gigs kept coming and she continued to climb the ladder.  Being a great songwriter was important to her, but being a great mother was her biggest priority and joy.  Corbie became her co-pilot, muse and best friend.  This past July, the two of them took the stage at our River Jam event and had the moment of the day when they sang Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy” together. It was one of the most special things we’d ever witnessed prior to today’s tragic news.  Now, it’s heart-wrenching.  In the years to come, this 60 second clip will serve as a reminder to Corbie of just how awesome her mom was and how much she loved her.

“God I hope I’m still around…”

Those lyrics from “Twenty Years From Now” ring harder today than ever before.  Kylie lost her own father at age 54 and yearned to make a longer, better life for herself.  Tragically, that did not happen.  Yet, the legacy she built on the songs and stories and memories of an entire state and music scene will live forever. 

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