From runway to rock 'n' roll former model Heidi Merrill is wowing audiences in a different way ... through her music. Her new single, "Faded," is getting retail play and her EP, "Home Grown" reminds her fans that she's a proud Nebraskran with Cornhusker spirit!
Here are her Five Questions and a Shameless Plug:
Your music style is a blend of country, pop and rock. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences and why?
My influences include a variety of artists, new and old! I love Chris Cornell, his tone is unmatchable and his range is ridiculous. I also love Stevie Nicks, Shania Twain and Martina McBride. Growing up in Nebraska, I listened to a lot of country but found myself also falling in love with rock goddesses like Evanescence. Another great artist that I listen to is Jason Aldean, because he's got great guitar riffs and he's just having fun.
How did your modeling career prepare you for a career in music?
Having a modeling career definitely helped with my confidence, which is very important on any stage -- including in front of the camera. Sharing my music is definitely different than walking a runway though. It means so much more to me, so it wasn't quite like second nature to get up and sing my songs in front of a crowd the first time! It takes repetition and really getting yourself to let go and being emerged in the energy of the songs. I'm so happy that it comes fairly easily to me now. It's so much fun to feel free on stage and give 'em all you got!
You released your EP “Home Grown” in October of 2015. What was the recording process like and who worked on the project with you?
"Home Grown" is my newest EP and my pride and joy. I wanted to write about where I come from and staying grounded. "Cornhusker Strong" pretty much sums it up! I'm a Nebraska Cornhusker, and despite traveling the world, will always be grounded in my country roots.
I flew down to Nashville to write with some of the top songwriters, including Jeff Cohen, to finish the songs and then found an amazing producer here in Brooklyn NY. (Ben Rice, Degraw Sound). I wanted to put the EP out for football season to also honor the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, and they ended up playing it in the stadium!
My band that I'd played with for quite some time all performed on the record. I'm very thankful to them. What a talented bunch of cool dudes!
You’ve toured a lot in New York and also in your home state of Nebraska. How are the shows/audiences different? It must feel really great going “home” for a show.
NY is an amazing place to perform. I have a loyal fan base here as well as friends who almost never miss a show and know all the words to my songs. That is such a great feeling. I was especially honored and excited though, to go back to my roots and play for my family and fellow Nebraskans. Especially with the meaning of the new EP, and the single “Cornhusker Strong,” it was fun to feel semi-famous among strangers. We were featured on all the local news channels and asked to perform on the morning show and at the first football game. Such an honor.
You’ve opened for artists like Howie Day, Tyler Hilton, and Anna Nalick. What was one of your most memorable experiences working with these artists?
The tour opening for Tyler Hilton, Howie Day, and Anna Nalick was such an exciting experience. I got to test my songs on their fans who had never before heard my music. I was very pleased with the response and the number of people who wanted to meet me and own my music. A stand out moment was singing the duet with Tyler Hilton, "When the Stars Go Blue" made famous by his One Tree Hill character. The girls went nuts! (For him more than for me of course, but still is was pretty cool)
Shameless Plug: What would you like our readers to know?
Well I'm very proud to say that two of my songs have been playing on the radio in Nebraska since the EP came out! And the music video for Cornhusker Strong has over 140,000 views, so check it out!
Learn more about Heidi Merrill: