Genevieve Heyward is living her dream as a touring recording artist. The 2017 graduate of Badger High School has played gigs from California to Texas and this fall she and her band, The North, will be heading to Norway for their first tour outside the U.S.
When contacted this summer, Heyward was awaiting the release of her second album, “The River,” which is following on the heels of her 2017 debut record, “It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening.”
Her voice, both sultry and smoky, has shades of Brandi Carlile, Stevie Nicks and Amy Winehouse, and Heyward says she strives “For a rich sound and a tone that kind of punches you in the gut — in a good way.”
Her love of music and performing, she explains, started around age 6 when she would lip sync to her favorite band The Backstreet Boys. She started piano lessons at age 7 and at age 12 joined School of Rock where she learned and performed classic songs. By age 14, Heyward had picked up the guitar and started covering songs, but soon she was writing her own melodies and lyrics.
She says she “tried to do everything school had to offer when it comes to music.” Those who attended musical and theater performances at Badger High School from 2013-2017 probably remember her from choir concerts, jazz band performances, talent shows and the theater program. Outside of school, she was taking vocal, guitar and dance lessons in addition to her involvement with School of Rock. “Looking back,” she says, “I wonder how I did all of that while maintaining my grades and having a social life.”
After graduation, Heyward’s family moved to Door County, which has been the perfect fit for her. Sturgeon Bay’s Steel Bridge Songfest, she explains, “is a huge reason I’m a full-time musician.” She adds, “It’s a magical writing festival where 30 to 50 musicians gather for a week and write music together.”
In fact, Heyward met her drummer and producer, Marcus Trana through Steel Bridge Songfest and through Trana eventually met guitarist Nick Hoover. They’ve both played on most of the songs on her latest record and have been with her for some of her shows.
This summer Heyward toured non-stop through northeastern Wisconsin, mostly in Door County and the Fox Valley, either solo or with The North.
So, what’s ahead for this emerging star? “My long-term goals are tour, tour, tour,” she says. “I’d love to release a new record in 2020, but I really want to hit all the states and play some towns, festivals and venues I’ve never been to. I just plan on doing what I’m doing and see where it takes me. It’s a pretty spontaneous lifestyle and there’s definitely a lot of ups and downs, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
To listen to Heyward and see a selection of her music videos and performances, check out genevieveheyward.com or her Facebook page.