(Olivia Harms | Photos courtesy of Olivia Harms)
Born and raised on a century farm in Canby, Oregon, Olivia Harms grew up knowing hard work was a way of life. So was music. Olivia’s mom is Joni Harms — singer/songwriter and Western Hall of Fame inductee. Music and hard work went hand in hand for Olivia. She joined her mom on the road playing music before she could walk. You might even say Olivia was born into it, “My first time on stage was when I was two days old — my mom, in true Joni style, had labor induced to make her show. From then on I was pretty much on stage by her side and becoming more and more addicted to the adventure of the music business.”
At age six, Santa Claus brought Olivia her first guitar, a baby Taylor. She learned to play and soon started writing her own songs. At 16, Olivia had written enough music to go back to Nashville and record her debut album. She admits that the songs and the writing style was what can be expected from a 16 year old girl. “One of the first songs I ever wrote was about my hometown Canby, Oregon. I had big dreams of sharing a little piece of our family farm and my upbringing with folks by singing the song on the road. Not much rhymes with Canby so I had to get creative. I used the phrase ‘can be’ and strung every fact I could think of. Before I knew it, I had a song about my little town and the 150 year old farm I grew up on. When I played it for my mom, she said she wished she had thought of it first.” For more than a decade Olivia has included her song Canby in concerts across the U.S. — even France, New Zealand and Australia.
After graduating high school in Canby, Olivia continued to play music as she started college at Oregon State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture business management, “A back-up plan in case music doesn’t work out,” she joked. But music continued to fire her soul, and after college Olivia started commuting to Nashville to write and record demos. She continues to base herself out of Oregon, but spends about half her year in Nashville.
In 2019 Olivia decided it was time to start planning for her second album. She shopped around for a producer and narrowed down her song choices. Once again, her mother Joni offered some valuable advice by suggesting Olivia reach out to D. Scott Miller, a former songwriter and friend of Joni’s when she was signed to Capital Records in the late 80s. It was obvious that D. Scott understood the sound and direction Olivia was aiming for. Together they chose ten songs from Olivia’s catalog to record, and set a recording date in 2020.
COVID-19 postponed recording twice, but Olivia wasn’t going to let a pandemic kill her dream. “I figured that no one knew how long this would last, and no one gets anywhere by putting their dreams on hold. So we went ahead with the recording in May of 2020. My mom accompanied me to Nashville and we had a blast making the project!”
Olivia has released her album Rhinestone Cowgirl and has enjoyed seeing it be so well received. “Seeing the numbers climb was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever felt,” Olivia said. “I poured my heart and soul into the songs and the project — so to see them do so well as an independent project right off the bat was amazing!”
Olivia looks forward to getting back on the road again and playing her new music live. “I’ve opened for acts like Dan+Shay, Old Dominion, Mark Chesnutt, Jerrod Niemann and Diamond Rio. It’s wonderful to see my name next to these greats, but it’s interacting with people, seeing them smile and hearing their stories that I miss the most. Sharing my stories and seeing people relate to my music in the crowd is why I do what I do.”
To keep up with Olivia’s upcoming concert schedule follow her on Instagram, and if you’re lucky, you might just hear a little song about her rural hometown in Oregon called Canby.