As one of Oklahoma City's premier songbirds, Ali Harter's migration back home signals a refreshing change in seasons " the summer of the so-called "staycation" is over and the fall of free acoustic concerts has started.
On Thursday, singer-songwriter Harter will be the first performer in the opening season of "The Helium Project: Acoustic Sessions," presented by Red House, a local advertising agency that specializes in design, photography and art direction.
With her smoky, velvet voice and a predilection for writing bluesy acoustic numbers, it's not surprising that Harter counts Bonnie Raitt as one of her biggest influences. Harter's debut full-length record, "Worry the Bone," is an honest collection of ghostly sweet songs with old-timey inflections that betray the musician's young age.
Before going solo, she spent the better part of 12 years playing in various bands before deciding to drop out of college to pursue a music career on her own terms.
After signing and later parting with a record label in the winter of 2006, the singer decided to overcome the temporary setback through constant tours and live gigs " an activity she enthusiastically maintains nearly two years later.
"I play a lot and I play to no one a lot," Harter said, joking. "That's part of it and I don't care. I just like to play. That's the only reason I do this and then, every once and awhile, something sweet rolls along like my gig overseas."
In summer 2007, a French-based management company discovered Harter through the social music Web site PureVolume and anxiously signed a deal with her. As a result, her relentless touring has expanded to include gigs in Europe. Still, she doesn't necessarily seem to mind which country or continent she is on as long as she's on the road.
Returning from Belgium in August, she looks forward to being closer to home over the next few weeks and performing 8 p.m. Thursday at Red House, 724 N.W. 18th.
"The Helium Project," a five-concert series will run through December and feature acoustic performances from local and regional bands and musicians. A limited number of free tickets will be downloadable a few weeks before each session at www.theheliumproject.com. For more information, call 605-8105. "Lucas Ross