Take Every Opportunity to Sing – Johnny & Heidi

An image of Johnny and Heidi performing on stage with guitars
These accomplished singer-songwriters are now engaging thousands on their Twitch channel

Accomplished songwriters and performers Johnny Bulford & Heidi Raye are the force behind the rapidly growing music channel Twitch.tv/JohnnyandHeidi  

At Singdaptive we just love the original tunes they’re bringing to their live streaming. Johnny co-wrote the #1 radio singles “A Woman Like You” by Lee Brice and “Lonely Eyes” by Chris Young. Heidi co-wrote “Working on That” recorded by The Voice winner, Sundance Head.  

They also bring their own blend of humor, quirky insights and deep-level audience engagement to their live streams.  So, we’ve asked them to share insights for all singers on tech, technique, vocal health, Twitch and more!

A favorite quote that inspires you

“Fall seven times and stand up eight” – Japanese Proverb. 

Why did you choose that quote?

The music business is incredibly tough and often heartbreaking, but we have found that the highs and lows come in waves. We might have a few disappointing months where it seems like every song gets passed on or every opportunity falls through at the last minute. Then, just when we think it’s over, something amazing happens and it lifts us right back up restoring our will to keep persevering.

Johnny & Heidi are blown away by the warm reception of fans and the rapid growth of their channel.

What were one or two critical steps you took to reach larger audiences with your music?

Heidi: I sang for anyone, anywhere, any time. Any gathering, if someone  suggested/asked/hinted for me to sing, I’d jump to the center of the room and start belting out a tune. I never turned down an opportunity to sing right from the age of 3, so when I got to Nashville and those same kind of opportunities popped up, (an industry event, party, BBQ, whatever) if someone wanted to hear me sing, I sang.

Johnny: Same! I sang for everyone!!!

Johnny & Heidi’s 810 CE Taylor

An object that inspires you in your musical work

We have a beautiful 810 CE Taylor that sounds like butter when you play it. There’s something about a rich guitar in the corner of the room that always holds a beautiful melody and a new idea. 

A key turning point in developing your own unique vocal work? 

Nashville is a competitive town with some incredible vocalists. We both improved exponentially after moving there.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in terms of vocal health?

Rest, rest and rest! Both vocal rest and getting enough sleep at night. As creatives, we have both struggled with insomnia most of our adult lives and we haven’t quite yet figured out the whole “get 8 hours of sleep at night” thing yet, but we sure are trying. When we can, we try to hit that 8-hour mark, even if it means sleeping in a little later than we’d like. If we need to heal, then the alarm clock gets postponed a bit. 

A vocal artist who inspires you? 

Johnny: Ed Sheeran always amazes me on his style, technique, emotion, and delivery. Just when I think I’ve seen him at his best, the next video or clip I see, he takes to another level.

Heidi: Carrie Underwood. One night I got to see her sing “How Great Thou Art” at the Grand Ole Opry and I swear I had complete body chills and uncontrollable tears. Her vocal technique is one thing, but the way she can make you feel things when she sings, is a truly unique gift.

A lesson with tech that’s helped you make or share your music?

Heidi: I recorded my first record when I was 12 years old, so singing in the vocal booth is something I’ve done most of my life. But it wasn’t until I moved to Nashville and started working as a demo singer with industry pros that I learned how to get a proper mix in my cans in order to get the best vocal possible. Getting the right mix can make all the difference in the world when it comes to vocal performance.

Johnny: Nowadays for me it is all about delivery. Sell that song!!! The engineers can perform magic if they need to.

What’s your relationship with social media – what do you do that “works” / or that you like doing?

Social media is probably the most important thing right now in terms of growth and success for independent artists. Unfortunately, this is a tool we haven’t quite figured out yet. We both prefer to spend our time on the creative side (writing, recording, practicing, learning), not the promotion side. 

In September of 2020, Johnny & Heidi opened for Keith Urban on Twitch for an Amazon Music exclusive event for the world premiere of Keith’s new record, The Speed Of Now.

OK – but things are certainly working for you on Twitch! 

True – right now, we are using our socials to draw traffic to our Twitch stream, and we are mostly reaching existing community members. We hope to figure out a way to reach new audiences very soon.

Why did you start on Twitch?

We started streaming on the Microsoft platform, Mixer, in August of 2019. We were looking for another outlet to grow our music careers and reach existing fans and potentially find new ones. When Mixer suddenly closed in June of 2020, moving to Twitch was the obvious choice and we couldn’t be happier with our new home. The community is absolutely incredible, the staff are very helpful, and the other streamers we have met along the way have been welcoming and inclusive. 

Would you recommend Twitch for all singers?

No. I think streaming music on Twitch is its own niche. Just like we wouldn’t tell everyone who wants to be a songwriter to move to Nashville, or everyone who wants to be an actor move to LA. It just depends on what your skills and goals are. It is very much a grind, it takes a lot of time and dedication, balance, and a much bigger level of accessibility than what we’ve been used to in the past.

Any social media “fails” or “successes” for you?

The NMPA Gala in in Nashville, TN. – one of the events where Johnny received his multi platinum award for “A Woman Like You”. 

We don’t know how to TikTok hahaha! We’ve made a few clips of us singing, but we are so preoccupied with the other social media outlets we haven’t had the time to dive in and figure it out.

What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?

We are both newly freed up from preexisting deals, so we are still pretty new to being the newly formed independent duo, Johnny and Heidi. We are focusing on writing and recording the music we want to release and the music our Twitch community wants to hear. 

So you’ve transitioned from writing for others on major industry projects to your own full time studio… 

Yes – we’ve moved from being in the studio with a producer directing the session to us sitting in our little home studio playing the parts, doing the arrangements and pushing the buttons ourselves. It has been an absolute blast having complete creative control and making something that we’ve created together.

What was your first performance?

Johnny: My family used to sing for each other all the time. Grandpa would play piano and my mom, aunt and sister would hit beautiful harmonies in my granny’s living room.

Heidi: My mom played piano and I sang “His Banner Over Me Is Love” at our little country church service when I was 3. From then on, my mom couldn’t keep me off the stage.

What performance would you single out as being a “turning point” & why?

Heidi: When I was 12, I was cast as Annie in a local theatre production of “Annie”. The show sold out the local theatre for 4 shows to 750 people a night and I think that was when I went from being a little girl who could sing to a little girl who wanted to go places. It opened a lot of doors for me.

Johnny: When I was a senior in high school, I was really shy and a bit of a social recluse. I signed up for the school talent show to play a song I had written. My family was more than nervous because they didn’t even know I was writing songs. By some miracle, I got a standing ovation and became a little less shy than I used to be.

See Johnny & Heidi On Twitch | Their Site | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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