Mary Heather Hickman was born in southern Arkansas in a small town but spent most of her childhood in Frisco, Texas outside of Dallas. Being in Texas accustomed Hickman to the specific country scene Texas is known for, and when she was young, she played all over the state at small-town opry stages. “It got me experience being on stage and made me realize I enjoyed that,” she tells us. “But I appreciate being raised in a state where country music is very prevalent. I think it definitely influences me as an artist now.”
Hickman was always a writer from a young age due to influence from her dad. “I remember writing songs when I was really young cause my dad always told me, ‘If you want to be a country music singer, you have to write your own songs.’ So I remember doing that at a very young age and writing songs about my dog, or whatever,” she explains. “Not anything super serious but I always had that love for writing.”
She ventured back out to Arkansas for college where she attended the University of Arkansas. While studying there, she started a band and decided to take songwriting more seriously, and began writing every single day, leaning into the art of crafting a song. It is also what made her realize the move to Nashville was the next step in her journey. She’s been in the city a little under four years now.
Fast-forward to December 2020 when a video of Hickman teasing her original song “Treasure” went viral on TikTok with almost three million views. “Yeah, that was a totally crazy experience and wasn’t something I was expecting,” she says. She has fellow songwriting friends who had some success on the uber-trendy app who told her she could reach people she might not normally be able to. She started posting and received encouraging success, but it wasn’t until teasing “Treasure” when she had a true taste of virality.
The day she posted the video, she was trying to record a different song but got frustrated because she couldn’t get the guitar part right. “I was like, I’m just gonna put this one aside and I’ll play this other song that’s more of a funny song and I had just recently written it,” she tells us. “So I put the song up, went to bed, and then I actually woke up later that night because I kept getting notifications on my phone and that was when I realized that the video was getting a lot more views than anything I’ve previously posted.”
The song attracted a wide audience with the saturated comment section telling Hickman how much they related to the lyrics that depict her bad taste in men. The songwriting is witty and endearing with lines like, “If he looks like he’s bad news, six foot five with a couple tattoos, a smokin’ habit, and a drinkin’ problem, sounds like he’s my prince charming” and “If he spent a couple nights in a county jail, somebody get me a wedding veil.”
“Treasure” has gone on to be featured on the Women of iHeartCountry radio show and led Hickman on a radio tour to different cities around the country. “It’s been really exciting and I’m trying to take it in and remember that these are the moments I’ve worked really hard for and that I’ve always wanted to happen,” she exclaims.
Her next single, “Ouachita River” was just released last week. Just like “Treasure,” she wrote it with Stefanie Joyce who joins in on vocals alongside Hickman. The two met through a mutual songwriter friend who thought they both had similar personalities. “We have just become good collaborators as well as close friends,” she says. “It feels really special to do something like this with my best friend.” She also notes the sarcastic sense of humor they both share.
Being born in Arkansas, Hickman grew up around the Ouachita River. The idea came when she went on a writer’s retreat to her dad’s cabin and went a day early with Joyce. “We had taken a walk down to where the river is and we were just walking along and I don’t remember who said it, but somebody said the line, ‘There’s a body at the bottom of the Ouachita River,’” exclaims Hickman. “We were like, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s a cool title or hook for a song, how can we turn this into a story and make a song out of it.’” They drew inspiration from songs like “Goodbye Earl” by The Chicks, “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash, and “Kate McCannon” by Colter Wall. The track came quickly to the two and it was one of the first songs they had written together with many more to come.
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