Interview: Elise Harper Opens Up About “Bartender Therapy”

Country singer-songwriter Elise Harper recently released her single/music video, “Bartender Therapy,” a song written by Elise Harper, Sarah Jones, Jason Lane, and Craig Wilson.

Born in the rainy delta of Memphis and raised on a musical diet of country, gospel, and pop, Elise Harper stands tall despite her petite stature of a mere 4’11. Even before she could talk, she was “performing” from her car seat in the back of a Buick.

Once she relocated to Nashville, Harper transitioned from focusing primarily on vocals to embracing songwriting, symbolizing a profound evolution in her artistic journey. As she delved deeper into the world of songcraft and with meaningful connections along the way, she discovered a newfound passion for songwriting.

From sharing stages with renowned artists like Chris Janson, Sara Evans, Michael Ray, and Filmore to joining forces with Jimmie Allen, CMA 2021 New Artist of the Year, Elise Harper has established herself as a rising star.

Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Elise Harper to discuss how “Bartender Therapy” came to life and the importance of a support system.

How would you describe your own music? 

I like to think of myself as a natural storyteller, transporting listeners with heartfelt writing, and powerful delivery. With high-energy performances and a mesmerizing voice, I like to leave the crowd wanting more.

Tell us more about “Bartender Therapy.” What was your experience of making it?

I loved writing this song with my co-writers Sarah Jones, Jason Lan, and Craig Wilson. We always had such a great time and worked well together. We were on a writer’s retreat in Florida and some violent storms rolled through our area and the power went out. We sat there in the dark for a few minutes, rounded up some candles, and tried to come up with a plan. I pitched an idea I’d been sitting on for a while and behold ‘Bartender Therapy’ was born. What I enjoy most about collaborating with these writers is how well we work together. Everyone brings different strengths to the table.  I like bringing the ideas and stories I want to write, along with vocals. Craig was a master at capturing my thoughts and turning them into lyrics. He was one of the most talented people I’ve ever known. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Such a loss for our community. I miss him every day. Jason brings the beats, melodies, and catchy hooks.  And then there is Sarah, throwing out lyrics so good and fresh we must add them. She’s the glue that holds us together. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of folks to write with. I am blessed.

Can you share the inspiration behind “Bartender Therapy” and the creative process involved in bringing it to life?

I wanted this video to stand out and connect with the listeners. It had to be cool, and unique, and I wanted a bit of a twist at the end. So, I made myself the bartender, finally revealing my face in the last scene. This song is important to me because it’s about events that have shaped my life and changed me forever. The video had to be great. There are hidden messages and meanings I wanted to share. I hope I can explain more about that someday in a longer interview. The most important thing I wanted to mention in this video is that even if you are surrounded by precious friends and family who love you, you can still struggle and feel alone. I want people to know that grief and losing someone isn’t easy. It takes time to process your emotions. I want people to know that it’s ok to go to therapy and talk things out with a professional you trust and that you aren’t a weak person for doing so. Our culture doesn’t talk about grieving really. We should be able to just bury the pain and move on…right? That’s just not realistic or healthy.

With “Bartender Therapy,” what was your main focus? What did you really want to try and achieve with this song?

I want the listeners to feel like this is a song they can relate to. We all have those friends that we confide in, covering the same ground over and over, hoping for new wisdom or insight. If you don’t have friends like that…get you some! Life is hard, so find a tribe that will support you, rejoice with you, grieve with you, but isn’t afraid to be honest with you. If you can find that and be that to others in return, you will have one of the most valuable resources you can have here on earth. Sure, you can go to a bar, and throw a little liquor down to numb the pain for a time, but it’s that community of friends that is gonna see you through. Finally, don’t call your cheating ex! They are like abusers. They don’t change, they just change the women they abuse.

How did you get started in music?

I began singing at a very young age and my mother asked if I wanted to start taking vocal lessons. I sang everywhere from church to school plays, choir, local festivals, and county fairs. After high school, I was awarded a full-ride scholarship to the University of Memphis allowing me to complete a Bachelor of Business Degree. I earned a scholarship for touring and performing with the university’s contemporary band ‘Sound Fuzion’ for five years. Building performance skills and finding my voice on the road performing in various venues across the South. One of my favorite Memphis memories was singing at the FedExForum as the halftime entertainment for the NBA’s Grizzlies. I learned about the competitive world of entertainment and music and received a Golden Ticket from my ‘American Idol’ audition and had the opportunity to perform on stage in Los Angeles two years in a row. After opening for country artists such as Sara Evans, Chris Janson, Michael Ray, and Filmore, I decided to move to Nashville in August of 2015. This was the beginning of my professional journey finding my footing on the path to a career in music.

Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you were to start your music career over again from day one?

I would have mastered an instrument at an early age and moved to Nashville as soon as possible to start writing songs.

Which artists have been inspiring you lately, or that you feel are consistently pushing boundaries and changing the game?

Last summer I came across an artist named Tanner Adele. She is an up-and-coming black country artist who is just killing the game right now. She was just on the new Beyonce ‘Cowboy Carter’ album. All the new music she has been putting out lately has just been simply amazing!

Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording, practicing, or playing live?

I honestly love them all because each one takes a different skill. However, if I had to pick just one, I would say singing live. There is nothing in the world like performing in front of a big crowd, hitting every single note and move planned. I feed off the energy of the crowd!

Based on your own experiences and lessons learned, what guiding principles or words of wisdom would you share with aspiring artists looking to carve out their own path in music?

Do not sign anything without getting a lawyer to look over it and trust your intuition if you have a gut feeling about something not being right for you.

What’s next for you?

I am just going to keep making music I love and putting it out, hoping the right people find it.

Follow Elise Harper Instagram | X | Facebook | Spotify

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