Heather Nova

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Heather Nova in Hanau 2005
Heather Nova 2014

Heather Nova (* 6. July 1967 in Bermuda as Heather Allison Frith ) is a Bermudan musician , singer and poet who is best known in Europe. After living in London for a long time , she has now moved back to Bermuda. Heather Nova is best known as a musician and singer. She also publishes poetry and illustrated some of her albums and the book of poems the sorrowjoy herself.

Music and singing

The albums Heather Novas, beginning with Glowstars (1993), move in their development from indie rock and the direction of composing singers ( Sheryl Crow , Alanis Morissette , Sarah McLachlan , Tori Amos etc.), which was particularly successful at the beginning and middle of the 1990s. towards a stronger integration of elements including pop music . The transition here is South (2001), which followed the rockier albums Oyster (1994) and Siren (1998). With Storm (2003) she created another guitar-heavy work, while Redbird (2005) again combines different variations of the predecessors. In contrast, The Jasmine Flower (2008) concentrates almost entirely on the singer's distinctive voice through greatly reduced instrumentation.

Because of this background, Heather Nova uses very different instruments for her music. In the 1990s her signature instruments were the guitar and the cello , so Heather Nova often appeared at concerts with a classic rock band ( electric guitar , bass , and drums ), which was supplemented by a cello, which is rather untypical for rock music . She now also uses the keyboard . For quieter songs, she often uses the acoustic guitar , earlier in conjunction with the cello, now with the Q-chord , the tambourine , the violin or the piano . For her studio albums she has also used the theremin that she recorded herself. On the Redbird album she worked with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and a gospel choir , among others . The Jasmine Flower offers a departure from elements of pop and thus a return . In addition to the acoustic guitar, the songs are only accompanied by a string ensemble.

With her varied singing , Heather Nova describes the tension between deep-seated moods, especially melancholy, and their emotional intensification, such as despair or short-term hope. Their music and singing are therefore often interspersed with sudden changes in rhythm and octaves.

Song lyrics

As a songwriter, Heather Nova mostly presents her own songs, occasionally she also interprets cover songs by well-known rock musicians such as Bruce Springsteen , Neil Young or Nick Cave .

The singer's intense lyrics draw on autobiographical experiences, a strong connection to nature and psychological observation of interpersonal relationships. These areas are often artfully and metaphorically interwoven in Heather Nova's pieces. Their origins from the Bermudian archipelago found their way into their imagery, and key terms such as ocean , sea , shell , sky or bird are recurring .

Especially in the earlier songs (on Glowstars , Oyster , Siren ) - which brought her to be categorized as Angry Young Woman - the discussion of relationship problems dominates, whereby an attempt is made to emphasize the need for mutual trust ( Throwing Fire at the Sun , Heart and Shoulder ), but failure is always included as a possibility ( I'm Alive ). Heather Nova doesn't shy away from addressing issues such as abuse ( Sugar , Blue Black ) and death ( Walking Higher , If I Should Die ).

In addition to an increasing awareness of self-determination ( I'm the Girl , Virus of the Mind ), since Redbird , after the birth of their son Sebastian, there have been several texts that contain the topic of motherhood . On The Jasmine Flower , however, a return of motives of uncertainty and loss can be seen. Since Siren , Heather Nova has often worked in joint productions or duets with other musicians (including Moby , Eskobar , ATB ), she also wrote her own interpretation of the classic Gloomy Sunday as the soundtrack for the German-Hungarian film A Song of Love and Death ( 1999).

Poetry book

In 2002 Heather Nova published a volume of poetry under the programmatic title the sorrowjoy , which she also illustrated herself. Her poetry is thematically related to the lyrics, and the imagery is also inspired by her Bermudian homeland, especially the nature of the archipelago (sea, fauna etc., see rain in the tropics , eastern blue cut , at sea ). They are mostly rhythmically composed , but do not obey any strict form , but rather the free verse (rarely stanzas, many enjambements , also prose poems ).

In terms of content, the texts are consciously of a strong subjectivity , this is expressed - in addition to poems that are dedicated to family members ( blue-eyed lion , ode to my grandfather , my father ) - in rather pessimistic - resigned traits (including the poison , soon alaska , like spiders ), which contrast with the joy of the inconspicuous, everyday and interpersonal ( the amber , digital , the abandon ).

As a special feature, the book is almost completely written in lower case.


Childhood in Bermuda and art studies (1967–1989)

Heather Frith was born in 1967 to a Bermuda father, whose ancestors can be traced back over 300 years on the island, and a Canadian mother. She has a brother ( Mishka ) who is a reggae singer and a sister (Susannah).

Like many others in the late 1960s, her father had the dream of breaking out of society and leading a frugal, self-sufficient life with his family. He gave up his job as an architect, took his children out of school, sold his house, bought a small island in Bermuda far from civilization and built a 12-meter sailboat, the Moon . The family now spent their time partly on the island and partly on the boat with which they sailed through the Caribbean. Heather was around ten years old at the time, and her proximity to the ocean will later influence many of her lyrics.

On the Moon she got to know the songs of Bob Dylan , Joan Baez , Van Morrison and their contemporaries through her music-loving parents . Heather got a guitar and a violin and began to write her first songs.

After several years on the Moon Heather left the boat to graduate from high school in the US and then enrolled at age 18 at the Rhode Iceland School of Design (RISD) in Providence, in order Performing Arts (ger .: visual arts ) to study with the main subjects film, animation and video ( Popular Culture, FAV ). She learned to make films, but was also interested in poetry and painting and continued to write her own songs for guitar. During this time, her career aspiration to become a musician solidified. After graduating from RISD in 1989 and a short time in New York, during which she unsuccessfully applied to various record labels, Heather Frith moved to London that same year to try her luck there.

First successes, international breakthrough (1990–1997)

In 1990 she met Felix Tod, the singer from Candyland , who became her producer (and later her husband) in London , and Abbo from Big Cat Records ( Pavement , Luscious Jackson , Jeff Buckley ), who gave her a recording contract. She released the Heather Frith EP in 1990 and has supported The Violent Femmes , The Cranberries and Bob Mold . Also Youth , ex-guitarist of Killing Joke , is a great promoter.

Under her new artist name "Heather Nova" (the name "Frith" was often mispronounced), her first album Glow Stars was released in 1993 on Youth's Butterfly label . It was recorded on an 8-track recorder at home . With the success of the live album Blow , which followed in the same year, Heather Nova was allowed to put together a band and give first concerts on the European mainland. The cello could be heard on Blow , an idea by Felix Tod, an extremely unusual instrumentation for a rock singer at the time. The cellist Nadia Lanman will be her most loyal companion musically for years. The cover of Blow and the EP Spirit in You show drawings by Heather Nova. In addition to music, painting becomes her great passion.

Her international breakthrough came with her first studio album, Oyster, in 1994. This made her very famous, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. Another live album Live from the Milky Way (recorded in Amsterdam) was released in the USA in 1995, which brought Heather Nova to the American market. The hit single Walk This World was followed by a two-year world tour that took Heather Nova from Europe to North America, Japan and even New Zealand. In Berlin she played in front of 25,000 spectators in the opening act for Neil Young and Pearl Jam . The NDR 2 radio concert from Hamburg Knust in March 1996, as well as their first appearance (of a total of four) at the WDR - Rockpalast in June 1996, attracted particular attention among fans and led to a significant increase in popularity due to the media spread. For this reason, her debut Heather Frith EP was re-released in 1997 as The First Recording .

Establishment, publication of poetry book (1998–2003)

In the summer of 1998, the long-awaited successor to Oyster , the album Siren , was released, which was again a huge success. In Germany, Heather Nova's face graced many front pages of music magazines, she was a regular guest on music television. This was followed by a long tour through Europe, on which the live album Wonderlust was recorded. She also gave many concerts in the USA. In addition, she now increasingly turned to various side projects. Heather Nova was invited to sing the theme song Gloomy Sunday for the German-Hungarian film A Song of Love and Death and released it as a single in 1999. On the other hand, she worked with the Swedish band Eskobar , with whom she recorded the single Someone New . The live album Wonderlust was released in 2000.

The studio album South , which was released in 2001, fell short of expectations. The criticism extended above all to the fact that the album was definitely trimmed by their record company V2 Records to be “suitable for high altitude”. Heather Nova drew the consequences and produced her own albums from now on. A big, successful tour followed with the album South .

In spring 2002 Heather Nova published a volume of poetry for the first time. The sorrowjoy book contains 45 poems, all of which were written by her. The book also contains several drawings from her pen. The book was self-published and could be bought at their concerts.

The 2003 album Storm was a return to old strengths. Heather Nova had recently moved from London to Bermuda and bought a house there. She took the production of the album into her own hands, the songs were again recorded "stripped down" with little technical equipment. Heather Nova was also able to release the album on Big Cat Records, the label on which the EP Heather Frith , also known as These Walls , was released. The first single River of Life shows an old black and white photo of the boat Moon , on which Heather Nova spent many years of her childhood, as the cover picture . When importing the album it was from the American rock band Mercury Rev supported. A London concert from the successful tour that followed was recorded and excerpts were released on DVD as Live at the Union Chapel .

Motherhood, social projects, further development (since 2004)

Heather Nova's first child was born in Bermuda on January 26, 2004. Her son Sebastian was also the main inspiration for the album Redbird , which was released in 2005, followed by another European tour.

At the end of 2005 her single Together as One was published in Bermuda , with the proceeds of which she wants to support the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and thus the peaceful coexistence of Bermuda's youth. Other social engagements also fall during this time: Heather Nova supports projects for the freedom of elephants, against dolphin parks, against the planned logging of the botanical gardens in Bermuda, collects money for the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo , gives free concerts, the proceeds of which are made to local Bermudian environmental organizations and also campaigns against the arms trade.

In 2006 the book the sorrowjoy , which had been published four years earlier, was set to music, enriched with ambient music and sold as a CD at concerts. During the tour in March 2006, Heather Nova appeared for the first time with a violinist and a pianist. So her followers were able to experience many of her famous songs in very unusual ways. The concerts in July and August 2006 took place again with her rock band. In April 2007, the album was released Trilogy of ATB to the Heather Nova three songs had written and they also sang, among others, the Single Renegade .

In October 2008 the acoustic album The Jasmine Flower was released. This was followed by several European tours and a performance in New York from 2008 to 2010. Sometimes these concerts took place with a full band, sometimes as pure acoustic concerts with the Viennese multi-instrumentalist Arnulf Lindner . Heather Nova was very keen to experiment. Musically talented fans were allowed to play on stage at the Lied Paper Cup . She also performed with other artists (Taylor Rankin, Joy T. Barnum and Max Lässer). VIP tickets (including backstage meet and greet ) were sold at some concerts . In addition, official recordings of her acoustic concerts were available on Heather Nova's website. On the sidelines of the autumn tour 2010, she performed in various hospitals (psychiatry and children's clinic) in order to “bring music to the people who just can't play music”.

Since the summer tour 2010, some songs ( Burning to Love , Everything Changes , Save a Little Piece of Tomorrow , Turn the Compass Round ) of the new album 300 Days at Sea , which was released in May 2011, have been presented.



year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1990 These walls - - - - -
EP, vinyl - as Heather Frith
1993 Glowstars - - - - -
Blow - - - - -
Live album
1994 Oyster DE43 (18 weeks)
- CH33 (5 weeks)
UK72 (1 week)
US179 (4 weeks)
1995 Live from the Milky Way - - - - -
Live album
1997 The First Recording - - - - -
Republication of the These Walls EP
1998 Siren DE13 (21 weeks)
AT24 (5 weeks)
CH28 (7 weeks)
UK55 (1 week)
US176 (1 week)
2000 Wonderlust DE31 (8 weeks)
- CH87 (2 weeks)
- -
Live album
2001 South DE5 (8 weeks)
AT35 (4 weeks)
CH21 (7 weeks)
- -
2003 Storm DE5 (8 weeks)
AT18 (6 weeks)
CH12 (9 weeks)
- -
2005 Redbird DE10 (7 weeks)
AT40 (6 weeks)
CH15 (7 weeks)
- -
2008 The Jasmine Flower DE52 (2 weeks)
AT61 (1 week)
CH26 (3 weeks)
- -
2011 300 Days at Sea DE25 (3 weeks)
AT48 (1 week)
CH47 (4 weeks)
- -
2015 The Way It Feels DE64 (1 week)
- - - -
2019 Pearl DE21 (3 weeks)
- CH57 (1 week)
- -


year Title
Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, album , rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
2002 Someone New
There’s Only Now
- - CH30 (23 weeks)
- -
Eskobar feat. Heather Nova
2007 Renegade
DE38 (8 weeks)
AT73 (1 week)
- - -
ATB with Heather Nova

More singles

  • 1993: Spirit in You
  • 1995: Walk This World
  • 1995: Maybe an Angel
  • 1996: Truth and Bone
  • 1998: London Rain
  • 1998: Heart and Shoulder
  • 1999: I'm the Girl
  • 1999: Gloomy Sunday
  • 2001: I'm no Angel
  • 2001: Virus of the Mind
  • 2003: Riv er of Live
  • 2005: Welcome (only as iTunes download)
  • 2005: Together as One
  • 2006: The Sorrowjoy
  • 2011: Higher Ground
  • 2013: Save a Little Piece of Tomorrow
  • 2014: All That Matters (with Rea Garvey )
  • 2015: Sea Glass


Web links

Commons : Heather Nova  - Collection of Images


  1. Rhode Island School of Design Homepage (English)
  2. Views. risd at 125. (PDF) Festschrift. (No longer available online.) Rhode Island School of Design, 2003, p. 15 , archived from the original June 8, 2003 ; accessed on September 1, 2016 .
  3. Bermuda Sloop Foundation (English).
  4. World star sings for little patients . In: Schwarzwälder Bote from November 15, 2010.
  5. a b DE AT CH Heather Nova in the Official UK Charts (English) US