The Early Days
Photo by Don Byatt
|Heather knew from an early age that being predominantly an artistic person
she would become involved in the arts. Around the age of 12 or 13 she became
increasingly involved in dancing, singing and acting for school shows and
amateur productions. Heather's interest in music began to grow and she
decided she would like to play the guitar. At the age of 14 Heather's
Grandpa, Ron Sowerby, bought her an acoustic guitar shortly before he died.
This made her desire to play even greater. After leaving sixth form Heather
chose to move on to study Art at college. Whilst at college Heather met some
people in musical circles and found herself spending more and more time in a
studio environment recording, singing and dancing with various acts. On one
particular project Heather even found herself working alongside model Nell
McAndrew as a fellow backing vocalist/dancer!
At the age of 19 Heather was first introduced to Bryan Josh and Liam Davison
by York based singer, song-writing guitarist Chris Helme (The Seahorses, &
At this time Heather was invited by their front man, Rick Witter to sing
with “Shed Seven” on their album “Let It Ride”, on the track entitled “In A
Mostly Autumn (and more!)
In April 1997 Heather was asked by Bryan Josh to join Mostly Autumn. The
prospect both excited her and made her apprehensive but she soon realised
this was the place she wanted to be. There was an overwhelming sense of
realism in Bryan’s song-writing that appealed to Heather and inspired her.
Heather began her song-writing collaboration with Bryan Josh on the band’s
second album “The Spirit of Autumn Past”, released in 1998. The track
“Evergreen”, features her first Mostly Autumn penned lyrics. This album saw
an increased amount of lead vocals by Heather with other occasional lyrical
interjections on tracks, such as “Please” and the title track itself.
Following the release of TSOAP, and much to her surprise, Heather received
an award from the Classic Rock Society for Best Female Vocalist 1999. This
was presented to her by ex -Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett - a great honour
for her and the rest of the band, who also received an award for Best New
The next landmark in Heather’s career was playing in an acoustic 3-piece
version of Mostly Autumn as support to Blackmore’s Night’s numerous tours
Heather’s role in the band grew even more after Bob Fauldes left when she
learned to play the whistle as a back up melody instrument for the tunes
that had previously featured a violin/flute arrangement.
By the autumn of 2000 Mostly Autumn were ready to record their third album
“The Last Bright Light”. This featured new songs written by Heather with
additional input from Bryan Josh, namely “The Eyes of the Forest” and
“Shrinking Violet”. “Never the Rainbow”, a collaboration between Iain
Jennings and Heather, is also featured here.
This was the first album Mostly Autumn release that featured Heather’s own
illustrations on its sleeve and cover artwork, largely completed by Heather
at the recording studio during the sessions for the album.
In spring 2001 Heather, Bryan and Angela, were invited by Ritchie Blackmore
and Candice Night to join them on stage with Blackmore’s Night for a series
of shows at Lumley Castle to promote their forthcoming album “Fires at
Midnight”. In these shows Heather was asked to play bodhran, drawing
compliments from Ritchie himself on her natural rhythmic ability.
After seeing the artwork Heather had done for the cover of TLBL, Ritchie
Blackmore also approached Heather to create some illustrations for the
forthcoming Blackmore’s Night album. Heather gladly accepted the offer and
her illustration for the song “Hanging Tree” was included in the album’s
original sleeve and in some territories, such Hong Kong, it has been more
recently used as the actual album cover.
Mostly Autumn continued to gather increasing acclaim following the release
of TLBL and at the 2001 Classic Rock Society Awards the band was voted Best
Band and the track ‘Shrinking Violet” was voted Best Song. Heather was also
nominated for Best Multi-Instrumentalist and Best Female Vocalist.
The end of 2001 came to a close with MA back in Germany with the full band
for a 3-week tour, supporting Uriah Heep.
Coming of Age
After much touring throughout 2002, their first shows in the USA, the making
of their first two DVDs, the recording of the interim album “Music Inspired
By The Lord Of The Rings” (commissioned for a Discovery Channel documentary)
and of the Anthology album “Catch The Spirit” (for which Heather created the
artwork), in January to April 2003 Mostly Autumn began pre-producing and
recording the much awaited fourth album "Passengers”.
Two of Heather’s newest entirely self-penned creations, “Bitterness Burnt”
(dedicated to her late father James Findlay) and “Caught in Fold” can be
heard on this album. “Another Life”, co-written with Iain Jennings, is also
one of the tracks on this album.
Heather felt that her vocal work on “Passengers” was the best she had
produced so far. She had always had the ability to sing with empathy and
feeling (and still does), but there is definitely a noticeable development
to be heard here. It was the same voice but with a lot more confidence and
conviction in delivery. Heather's illustrative interpretations of some of
the songs from “Passengers” were included in the limited edition
DVD/book-set “The Grand Opera House” released later in 2003.
Collaborations and Guest Appearances
Heather has always been open to working with other artists, both live and on
record. She made several live appearances throughout 2002 with Damien Wilson
and then in 2003 Arjen Lucassen invited her to sing and collaborate with him
on his Ayreon release “The Human Equation”. This album featured a multitude
of singers, each playing a different part in Lucassen’s tale of a road
accident victim whose emotions battle amongst themselves within him while he
is in a coma in hospital. Heather’s part was that of “Love” and was one that
perfectly suited the warmth of her voice. However, it is the tracks “Day
Eleven: Love” and “Day Thirteen: Sign” that are her standout contributions.
The former features Heather singing in an uncharacteristic yet spookily Kate
Bush-like style while the latter song has her singing with a far more
familiar, warm, soft romantic quality to her voice. Arjen’s faith in
Heather’s abilities was further endorsed by him asking her to write to the
lyrics for both of these songs, something he rarely trusts to others.
Heather also sang on, and wrote the words for “August Fire”, an acoustic
track that was originally recorded for (but eventually wasn’t included on)
“The Human Equation” and was released on Ayreon’s single “Come Back To Me”
As if she wasn’t busy enough already in 2003, Heather still found time to
make a couple more guest appearances, the first with Uriah Heep at their
Magician’s Birthday Party (sharing lead vocals on “Love In Silence” and then
joining in on backing vocals on “Lady In Black”) and the second with John
Wetton at the Mean Fiddler.
Storms Over Still Water, Heart Full of Sky and Beyond
2004 was a year that was largely taken up by touring for Heather and the
band. The most notable of these were the ‘V’ Shows that saw the band
stepping up a gear in terms of full audio-visual presentation, and further
cemented Heather’s confidence and already strong abilities as a front-woman
as well as a singer.
The spring of 2005 saw the release of “Storms Over Still Water”, which
featured several songs containing Heather’s lyrics. She also co-wrote three
of the album’s highlights - the passion-filled ballad, “Heart Life”, the
environmentally-inspired rocker “Black Rain”, and what many have come to
regard as one of Mostly Autumn’s finest moments to date - the phenomenal
“Carpe Diem”, written by Heather on New Year’s Eve 2004 as a reaction of her
feelings about the tragic tsunami that had occurred on Boxing Day a few days
This album also saw Heather exploring other aspects to her voice, with “Out
Of The Green Sky” and “Black Rain” both illustrating that she was capable of
a much harder-edged and powerful style if she so wished.
The year finished in a great way for Heather as she collected three awards
at the 2005 Classic Rock Society ‘Band of the Year’ Awards for Best Female
Vocalist, Best Track (for her co-composition “Carpe Diem”) and the tongue-in
cheek Best Page Three Award! None would argue that these recognitions
weren’t hugely deserved and they are something of which Heather is quite
rightly immensely proud.
Continuing to explore her musical interests outside of Mostly Autumn, 2005
was also notable in that Heather formed an acoustic duo with Angela Gordon,
something which gave them an outlet to express musical ideas that wouldn’t
naturally fit in the Mostly Autumn format. Several club dates in late 2005,
2006 and 2007 saw them play a range of original material and a few choice
covers. These also presented audiences with a chance to hear Heather’s
impressive skills as an acoustic guitarist – something she is far better at
than she gives herself credit for!
While much 2006 was taken up with touring, and writing and recording the
“Heart Full Of Sky” album, Heather nevertheless still found time earlier in
the year to spread her wings a little further by being the only guest on the
latest Iona album, “The Circling Hour”, contributing some delicate vocals
for the closing track, “Fragment - of a Fiery Sun”.
Never one to pause for too long, Heather has thrown herself into her work
throughout 2007. “Heart Full Of Sky” has become the band’s best selling
album to date following a hugely successful launch gig at the Astoria in
London in February 2007. The band’s first ever fan convention followed
shortly afterwards and then it was time for the more touring to promote the
album. In amongst all this she has found time to team up with Angela Gordon
to record the eagerly awaited debut Odin Dragonfly album, “Offerings”, the
release of which will surely be one of Heather’s proudest musical
achievements to date.
With her reputation continuing to gain momentum, the future looks very
bright indeed for this most charismatic and talented of musicians!
Other albums that feature Heather’s voice include:
Ascension – Gabriel
Delicate Flame of Desire – Karnataka
Julia Jenkins – Shine
Communion – Fish
Heather’s artwork related to this biography can be viewed at this site by
following the link