J. Michael Harter Talks New EP “Ride On,” Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton’s Love Child, and Upcoming Shows


“Staying true to his roots and holding his own just like his dad taught him, J. Michael took the path of a troubadour. His music contains powerful lyrics about real life relationships, experiences and struggles, resulting in a deeper form of poetry rather than surface music.”

I recently sat down with J. Michael Harter to chat everything from his new EP to record deals to Vietnamese food, which he had just tried for lunch for the first time that day. As a new(ish) artist to the country music scene we began with a bit of Harter’s background: he was born in Phoenix, Arizona, has five siblings, and learned to play the guitar at age 13. And some might not know that he used to be in a band called “The Harter’s” comprised of himself, his sister Leslie, and brother Scott. The band came to be in Arizona after spending some time working on a solo deal in Nashville with Broken Bow Records. After spending some time playing as “The Harter’s,” J. Michael felt it was time to move back to Nashville and work as a solo artist again. He landed another solo deal in less than a year.

How “Holy Cowgirl” came to be.

After “The Harter’s” split, J. Michael went on a songwriting retreat to a lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska. He was joined by his brother Scott, Bruce Wallace, Scott Laurent – an alternative rock writer who organized the retreat – and Earl Bud Lee – the man responsible for Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” – who has become a collaborator and close friend to J. Michael. He admitted that usually he wouldn’t write with so many other people, but since everyone was gathered in such a secluded location, it was sort of meant to be. During the retreat, Harter threw out the title “Holy Cowgirl” then Bruce Wallace picked up the guitar, played a lick, and the single was born in less than 45 minutes. They later performed for the guests of the lodge before returning to Nashville.

(If you missed the single review check it out here.)

Some of J. Michael’s musical inspirations.

Alan Jackson, George Jones, The Eagles, The Beatles, but most notably, Garth Brooks. Actually, someone recently told him that he sounds like “the love child of Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton.” Brooks inspired Harter to pick up the guitar, stating “he made it cool to like country. I didn’t feel like a nerd” and rightfully so.

The new EP “Ride On.”

J. Michael is currently promoting his new EP “Ride On” to-be-released September 30th. It’s a 6-track album with 2 bonus tracks, including the dance remix to “Holy Cowgirl” which is currently spinning at the club scene. J. Michael is especially excited about a track titled “Mama Look Out Yonder” – written by Earl Bud Lee in 1982 – this is the first time it’s been officially recorded for album release. The two of them cut the track a few weeks after the Bristol Bay songwriting retreat. He describes it as a sonically classic, lyrically timeless song about his life that you’ll “get lost listening to.”

Upcoming shows. 

At the moment, he was playing a couple festivals in Arizona before returning to Nashville to play some shows before the EP release. A list of his upcoming shows can be found on his website and Facebook.

Meanwhile, J. Michael has been spending time in the studio working on his full-length album to-be-released, hopefully next year.