SPM Acoustics: Nick Heward

The microphone presses against his lips like a lover. He plucks the guitar with the delicacy of a mother caressing her newborn child. The crowd uses the floor as their amphitheater, clutching bottles of beer and the bright red straws of tall mojitos. Couples hold hands, singles perch on barstools, all clapping and swaying contentedly to the rhythms of Nick Heward’s guitar.

The local Valley artist celebrated the release of his debut album, “Love Me Till I’m Home,” last Thursday night at the Rhythm Room in downtown Phoenix with about 240 fans.

“He’s very present in his music and it definitely radiates from his heart when he plays,” kinesiology senior Amanda Stadel says. “And you don’t always see that with every musician.”

Heward, 28, has played the guitar since the age of 12, and draws inspiration for his music from the emotions of past experiences.

“I write about family, friends and experiences that are common,” Heward says. “Everyone has family, friends and love. Everyone’s been through those experiences.”

From singing about a one-night stand (“Mary-Jane”) to writing about Step 4 of the 12-Step Program for a substance-abuse group (“Lonely Island”), Heward describes his music as a “therapeutic process.”

“It’s like journaling your feelings and thoughts and going back and trying to make them clearer so that other people can understand and relate (to them),” Heward says.

Heward wrote the song “Please Forgive Me” when he returned home from a vacation to find his mother living in a Motel 6, he says. Growing up, he had always wanted to take care of and respect his mom, but the wealth he promised to help her with never came.

“My mom is a survivor,” Heward says. “She’s always had to struggle. She deserves a lot of credit.”

The idea of “home” intrigues Heward, who attended four separate high schools and moved several times. He said he has never had the feeling of a home he could return to for Christmas or Thanksgiving, but he has always had “unconditional love.” He plans to film a documentary down the California coast about the idea of home and the idea of “Love Me Till I’m Home.”

Heward also struggled with rarely having his father around, he says. The song “Father Tom” is Heward’s attempt to connect with his father, an evangelical street preacher who traveled the country to spread his Christian message.

“He’s come out of what may seem like not a great future and he’s made a great life for himself,” Heward’s sister Danielle Heward says. “He’s become a very successful musician.”

Heward has been completely supporting himself with music for three years and aims to find new audiences by hopefully going on tour. He has already written three songs for his next album and plans to release a live edition of his current album.

“The music is really good and it will spread virally. Heward says. “People will share it.”

Reach the reporter at hhuskins@asu.edu

Video by Tyler Tang.

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