Singer/Songwriter Barbara Harley Wins New Jersey Country Music Association Award for Female Singer/Songwriter of the Year 3rd Year in a Row!
I recently spoke with Country singer/songwriter Barbara Harley. Barbara recently won the New Jersey Country Music Association award for best "Female Singer/Songwriter of the Year" - an award she's won for the 3rd straight row in a year. Barbara recently released her debut single, "First Glance," off of her debut CD of the same title, which has been charting on the Worldwide Mainstream Major and Indie Country Charts. Aside from playing out in New Jersey with her trio "Flat, Broke and Busted," which includes songwriters/performers Al Lind and Brian McArdle, and collaborating on songs with co-writers, Al Lind and Kim Jakubicki, Barbara is an elementary music teacher in the South Plainfield school district. For more information on Barbara Harley, to order a copy of FIRST GLANCE (Rinse The Dish Records) and/or to get a copy of her newsletter, check out her website at www.harleytunes.com or email Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Barbara. It's great to talk to you. Congratulations on winning the award. You must be thrilled!
BARBARA HARLEY Well, thank you. I was very surprised because I didn't think I was going to win actually, but my cowriter Al was real confident. He said, 'I think you'll win,' I said, "Ok, whatever you say." I was very shocked when I did. Wow! For the 3rd time, that's really nice!
[Cindy Beth Gordon] So what kind of music do you write and perform?
BARBARA HARLEY I call my music "Easy Country." The lyrics are simple and easy to understand, the melodies are catchy, the arrangements are rich. The focus is on adult issues with a positive and supportive perspective. Some would call the music New Country, but my audience is adults, not youth. When I perform in my trio, Flat, Broke & Busted, we do cover music and some of our originals. We play Crosby, Stills and Nash, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles…stuff from the 70's all the way up to the present. We do all kinds of music, so it's not just Country. Brian McArdle and Al Lind are such awesome singers, so we include songs that use everybody's voice. Flat, Broke & Busted is all acoustic –three acoustic guitars and vocals. Sometimes Brian will do a tune or Al will sing. We add harmony to each other's songs, which sounds great.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] As far as the original music, who's involved in that project?
BARBARA HARLEY I write most of my songs with Al Lind and Kim Jakubicki. We like writing as a threesome, because we get ideas off of each other. We just talk things out. Then, if there's a disagreement about a line in a song, like if one person likes one thing and somebody else likes something different, it's always nice to have that 3rd person. Then we always go with the 3rd person's decision. It's good to have three sets of ears because if two people agree on something, you know you're on the right track.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Just to clarify, the award was for your original project, FIRST GLANCE?
BARBARA HARLEY Yes, it was given to me as the singer/songwriter. But, I really think the award should go to Al and Kim, too. The members of NJCMA chose me because I'm the artist of the songs, but in essence when it comes to the songwriting, Al and Kim deserve just as much credit, because they're also the writers.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Do you play locally or all over the place?
BARBARA HARLEY We play mostly in central and northern New Jersey. We like to do gigs like bookstores, because they're not long and the people are good listeners. Our performance schedule is listed on my website at www.harleytunes.com.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I heard you're friends with Singer/Songwriter Marc Sica, who won the NJCMA award for best male singer/songwriter.
BARBARA HARLEY Yes. He's really good too and a really nice guy. We've known each other for a long time. I've always had a respect for Marc. He's always been an excellent songwriter and an excellent performer.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] So, regarding your CD, FIRST GLANCE, a great CD by the way, are you looking to continue selling your own CD's or are you looking for a recording contract?
BARBARA HARLEY I'm not looking for a recording contract. I’m on an independent label, Rinse The Dish Records. But, we are looking for someone to cut one of our songs. We’re trying to get the songs down to Nashville to the artists and hoping that one of them will cut one of our tunes. I want to keep selling the CD. I want to get that CD out there because as you know, I'm proud of the way it came out. We worked really hard on it.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] I think you have a good shot of getting songs cut.
BARBARA HARLEY Thanks. I hope you're right! We’re working on getting a distribution deal, because we’re getting great airplay in Europe and Australia. I wouldn't say no to that. The main thing is trying to get radio airplay so that people can hear the songs. I think if people hear FIRST GLANCE, they'll like it. We're selling FIRST GLANCE on www.cdbaby.com/harley. People who don't know me are starting to buy from that site, which is really great.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] So what's your favorite original song?
BARBARA HARLEY A new one that we recently got demoed called, "The Best Side of Me." We think that could be our potential hit and we're just starting to send it out now.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Where did you cut that? Is that the same studio that you cut, "FIRST GLANCE"? That was Bayou Studios, Inc?
BARBARA HARLEY No, we don't use Bayou for demos. I use a demo service out of Nashville called the Gator Hole Studio. The owner, Galen Breen has become a good friend to us. He does really awesome demos. Folks can learn about The Gator Hole studio at www.thegatorhole.com
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Who do you get to critique your songs?
BARBARA HARLEY My songwriting mentor, Kim Copeland out of Nashville. Kim was the producer of my CD, FIRST GLANCE. The last song we sent her, "The Best Side of Me," didn't need any changes. It was ready to go, so I think we're at the point now where we don't really need critiques anymore. But, we like to send them down to Kim, just because we respect her very highly. I think we're at the point in our songwriting now, where it's just a matter of opinion or suggestion. Kim might say, 'that's really good, why don't you be a little more descriptive here, or I think you could make verse 2 a little stronger…'
Kim used to be song evaluator # 23 for the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). She really, really helped us with our songwriting immensely. I listened to what she told me. We've used the other evaluators such as Rick Beresford, Jason Blume, and Barbara Cloyd, all out of Nashville. They've all been very good in their own way.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well, congratulations and good luck with everything. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
BARBARA HARLEY The songwriting thing to me is really fun and we always get so excited when we finish a song. I don't know how to explain it; it's like a high. When we get a demo back and we put it on, it's like wow, that's really good. It's exciting!
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Sounds like a great time for you, Al and Kim and crew. Again, congratulations to you all and I wish you all the best of luck!