Dallas Music Scene Mourns the Death of Rising Country Star Kylie Rae Harris

Kylie Rae Harris, a country star and mother, passed away on Wednesday night.
Kylie Rae Harris, a country star and mother, passed away on Wednesday night. Brooke Stevens Photography
Every 48 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk-driving crash.

It’s the leading cause of death on U.S. roads, ending more than 37,00 people’s lives in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On Wednesday night, that someone turned out to be rising Texas country music star Kylie Rae Harris. She was 30 years old.

According to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico, Harris was involved in a three-vehicle crash involving a suspected drunk driver.

A 16-year-old girl was also killed in the crash. The third driver survived, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“Everyone that knew Kylie knew how much she loved her family and, beyond that, how much she loved music,” Harris’ publicist said in a statement. “The best tribute to her unmatched enthusiasm for both is to spread as much love as you can today and listen to music that fully inspires you.”

A native of Wylie, Harris grew up not far from Dallas and began blazing on the Texas country music scene in 2010 with the release of her debut, All the Right Reasons. She performed at venues like Capital Bar, Hat Tricks and Love and War in Texas before heading out to Nashville, as reported in a Sept. 20, 2013, Dallas Observer story.

Her fellow Troubadour, TX star Zane Williams told the Observer, "Kylie Rae sings like an angel covered in the dust and dirt of the real world. Soulful, passionate and wise beyond her years, her songs tend toward melancholy. But her smile is as bright as they come."

This soulful and passionate singer would go on to release another full-length album and self-titled EP in March. Billboard debuted her song “Twenty Years From Now,” which she wrote for her 6-year-old daughter. She told the publication it was the most important song she’d ever written:

“Twenty years from now / My prayer is that somehow / You’ll forgive all my mistakes and be proud of the choice I made / God I hope I’m still around / Twenty years from now.”

“If you ever had the privilege of watching her sing with just an acoustic guitar, count yourself among the lucky.” – Beau Bedford

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Harris was traveling in New Mexico on Wednesday and sharing videos on social media that recounted her childhood going to visit family there. "I spent the last 20 years of my life coming to Taos with my dad and my sister,” she said. “My grandparents lived here. My uncle still lives here. But basically, literally everybody that was here has passed away, except for my uncle, and including my dad.

"You would think that's exhausting and boring,” she continued, “but like, the last couple of hours driving through the mountains and just remembering my place in the back seat as a little kid when my dad was making these treks here. I'm so f—-king pissed.

"And I started getting really sad. I started getting real sad. And then all of a sudden, these random cows show up in the middle of the road. And I know that might sound really crazy, but like, there was this time that we always talked about with my dad and my sister. I was in the backseat asleep. I was like 10 or 12, and we hit something really hard! And I popped up my head and was like, 'What was that?' And my dad said, 'Cow guard.' But really, he had hit a cow! I know that's very depressing, but just the fact that I started when I was on my trek to the mountains, I just started crying and I was sad, and all of a sudden, these cows just appeared out of nowhere."

Harris was scheduled to perform at Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Music Festival in New Mexico when she was involved in the three-car crash not far from Taos.

When news of her death spread on social media, country music stars began sharing their condolences.

“The music world lost a beautiful, kind and incredibly talented woman last night,” wrote local Texas country music star Pat Green on Twitter. “Rest in peace, Kylie Rae Harris!”

Texas country music star Josh Abbott posted that it had been a tough morning for him after he learned the news of Harris’ death. “The entire Texas music community hurts,” he wrote. “Yet another reminder of 2 truths: we don’t know when our time is up, and we should love our people as much as we can while we can.”

Texas Gentlemen bandleader and producer Beau Bedford met Harris 15 years ago. He told the Observer that they were songwriters “wanting to share our lives through our songs.”

“If you ever had the privilege of watching her sing with just an acoustic guitar, count yourself among the lucky,” he said. “Her soulful voice and earnest songs were such a perfect reflection of her spirit.

“I am so heartbroken to see her go. We miss you, Ky. Wish there was one more time here on earth, for everything.”
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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.