Nashville singer to aspiring artists: ‘You have to really love what you’re doing’
In 1992 he began a journey of Starbucks coffeehouse gigs in Southern California. Jumping forward two decades and seven published albums later, singer-songwriter Ernie Halter reminisces the path he took in his music career, a time that presented him with some of his most significant challenges and extraordinary opportunities.
“Music has always been a part of my life, ever since I was a kid,” Halter said. “I’ve never really loved anything as much as I’ve loved music. It’s just a natural thing to fall into.”
Born in 1974, Halter was raised with his two brothers in the suburbs of Orange County. By age 8 Halter began taking piano lessons and within five years after that taught himself to read and play chord charts for pop classics. Halter’s original songs reflect his pop and soul influences, which include the Beatles, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
In 2005 Halter released his first album, “Lo-Fidelity” before releasing the larger hit album “Congress Hotel” in 2007. By then Halter’s songs spread throughout the growing social media community, which led him to sign with the Rock Ridge Music label.
“I definitely do [think my music has evolved over time]. When I was releasing Lo Fidelity, I was still struggling with being a songwriter,” Halter said. “I feel like I’ve come a long way as a performer and as a writer.”
Since signing with Rock Ridge, Halter has toured throughout all 50 states in the U.S. and has performed with a plethora of significant names, including Lady Antebellum, Jason Mraz, Neil Young, the Zac Brown Band and many more.
“Getting a chance to see every corner of this country was really a breathtaking thing,” Halter said. “It’s hard to pinpoint on one single moment.”
Halter has also played numerous venues outside of the United States, which he hopes to do more of in the future.
“I don’t do a lot of (international shows), but I travel overseas about once a year where I want to focus on one area,” he said. “I like it and definitely jump at the opportunity to play outside the U.S.”
Many may know Halter’s songs from television shows like General Hospital, HBO’s The Leftovers and Disney shows like Sonny With A Chance featuring Demi Lovato. Networks mostly highlighted the songs that were previously recorded for Halter’s albums. However, General Hospital remains the one exception for which he wrote a song, particularly for the show.
“I was co-writing with a friend of mine in L.A., and I know she did a lot of work with the ABC Music Library,” Halter explained. “I just quickly wrote something hoping she would want to do a 50/50 co-write, and that’s exactly what happened. I ended up playing it for her, did a voice demo on her computer and she ended up making a track off that.”
Halter offers a feature on his web site that stands out from other artists – people can order customised songs (for a commissioned fee). The project started as a Kickstarter fundraiser for his album production but remained as a permanent offer due to high demand.
“Someone will say ‘I want to write a song for my wife’ or ‘my husband’ or ‘my dog,’ and I’ll write a song based on the story of how they met or who they are,” Halter said. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to be a part of, so I continue to do it even after the Kickstarter was over.”
Now married with three children, Halter relocated his life and career farther east and currently resides in Nashville.
“People think I moved to Nashville because of music, which is an obvious assumption,” Halter said. “But it’s just an inexpensive place to live and raise a family. Nashville is also very centrally located, so driving to major cities is just a day’s drive. It was a lot harder to do that affordably from L.A.”
Though Halter’s music career has reached countless high points, he recalls the humbling struggles he endured to achieve his goals.
“I had to sacrifice quite a lot personally in terms of comfort and quality of life in order to do what I do. I cannot tell you how many times I slept in my car,” Halter said. “And it’s completely worth it because I love what I do. But if I didn’t absolutely love it, it would be a chore, and it wouldn’t be worth it.
That is exactly what he advises for other artists who look to make a name for themselves in the music industry – always keep that love alive for life’s calling.
“Love the day-to-day part of it because, in the end, that’s what you’ve got. Whether you ‘make it’ or not – that’s secondary,” Halter said. “Be mindful and graceful with yourself.”
As for what’s ahead in the New Year – Halter recently launched another Kickstarter, which raised enough money to fund the eighth album. Currently recording, Halter plans to release a full vinyl record in Nashville this summer.
In the meantime, his merchandise can be purchased at erniehalter.bigcartel.com
Written by Amelia Parreira