Heartland Interview

Heartland Interview

By Big Al Weekley for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Heartland Country, Southern California’s rising honky tonk sensation is a powerhouse music group stemming from a wide range of stylistic backgrounds. Specializing in your favorite country hits from classic to current, these touring performance veterans are known to throw in some classic rock or pop hits when the mood is right.


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The band consists of the perfect mix of old school power players and raw young talent. Dwana Olsen’s infectious energy and soulful style blend harmoniously with the organic grit and rock roots of charismatic co-singer Joe Denges. The two have found their home in country music and it’s evident in their chemistry on stage.

A band that has the class to entertain with the best but are not afraid to roll up their sleeves, Heartland Country is a non-stop, pull no punches, good time.

Heartland was founded in 1994 by Jason Albert, brothers Craig and Todd Anderson, and Mike Myerson. They performed at a June Jam in the state of Alabama in 1997, and began seeking a record contract through the assistance of songwriter Walt Aldridge.

Heartland signed with an independent record label called Lofton Creek Records in 2006. The group’s debut single, “I Loved Her First”, was released later that year, and went on to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. The band’s debut album, also titled I Loved Her First, was released in October 2006. Ken Burke of Country Standard Time gave the album a positive review, praising the instrumentation and Albert’s “hardcore southern vocals”, also saying that it had “snappy execution and catchy hooks galore.”

After its second and third singles performed poorly, the band exited Lofton Creek and signed with Country Thunder Records in March 2007. They began working with producer Mark Bright, but instead released “Once a Woman Gets a Hold of Your Heart”, which was co-written by John Rich of Big & Rich and Richie McDonald of Lonestar, with Rich also serving as producer. It was followed by “Slow Down”, which did not chart. The label closed in March 2009. In July of the same year, the band moved to Permian Records and released the single “Mustache”. Also, Myerson left the group.

By 2012, all of the original members except Albert and Crawford had left the band to start families, while Chad Austin joined. Austin had recorded two albums for Asylum Records in the late 1990s, and was later signed to Broken Bow Records. Also, Albert had been experiencing vocal issues which had to be treated with exercises and rest. To reduce the strain on his vocal cords, all three members now alternate on lead vocals. The lineup of Albert, Crawford, and Austin released a new single, “The Sound a Dream Makes”, in September 2012. It was produced by James Stroud and released via his R&J Records.

In July 2019, the band (now consisting of Jason Albert, Charles Crawford and Keith West) released its first album in over a decade titled I Loved Her First: The Heart of Heartland on Permian Records, featuring 10 new original songs with special guest appearances by Tracy Lawrence on the new version of their first hit “I Loved Her First” and Samantha Crawford on “When Love Comes Around”.

In 2023, the Anderson brothers and Mike Myerson re-established Heartland with a new lead singer, Lance Horton. The band also announced a new album slated for release later in the year via Yellowhammer Records.

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