Growing up in rural Montana, Aaron found himself in a complicated relationship with music from a very young age. His Dad played ‘60s and ‘70s folk songs from the likes of Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan. These iconic artists moved Aaron deeply and defined the direction of his life. He became obsessed with everything related to music, and started spending hours a day learning to play the violin. But even while music itself was the center of his life, Aaron was sheltered from most of his would-be heroes by the rules of his faith.
“I didn’t grow up with great records.” Howard said of his formative years. “I wasn’t allowed to listen to rock n’ roll.” Ironically, the absence of such music from his early life, was likely a powerful factor in the transformative effect it had on him later. “When I discovered rock ’n roll, everything changed. There was something about a three minute song that made sense of my life in a way nothing had before. It was like the world had gone from black and white to color.”
Aaron excelled as a violinist and appeared to have a real future there. He rejected the conservatory route, however, in favor of taking his first handful of songs on the road. After a lot of big dreams and empty shows, Aaron found himself in Phoenix, playing hotels and wine bars while writing songs on the side. It was an apprenticeship of sorts. He learned to be an artist during those years. He made several records that ended up being more meaningful in terms of experience than having something to say. He apprenticed in a studio. He produced a couple of records for other artists. He lived in Chicago and played on the street. He composed music for two short films and a shoe commercial. He wrote well over a hundred songs. Somewhere in all the chaos of those years, he found a sound that brought his work to life. Audiences started to respond.
It was then that Aaron had to take a leap and commit to giving his voice a real shot. He went to work with producer Chris Cunningham of veteran folk duo Storyhill, to make Heart on Fire into a record that would be worth taking to the world. He had built a loyal following over the years, and reached out to them to raise over $10,000 on kickstarter to fund the project. “It all came together in ways I could never have planned for.” Said Aaron of the process of making ‘Heart on Fire’. “It felt like magic.” As he says in the lyrics to his song ‘Leaving’: “I’ve spent my whole life walking, now I’m learning to run.”