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Featured Harpist
Catherine Heise
Venus Model
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Councilwoman returns to her musical path
Dearborn Heights councilwoman was a professional harpist before she went back to school to study law.

After spending years away from the harp, Catherine Heise looks forward to filling her weekends with performances.

Some in the community may recognize Heise, 44, from her work as a lawyer or her role as a member of the Dearborn Heights City Council.

She'd like to also be known as a musician.

"I'm trying to build the business," she said. "Where I have fulfillment is playing for important community events.

"I'll cast a lot of seeds and see what springs up."

Heise's love for the harp began when she was 7 years old. While attending a performance of "Annie Get Your Gun" at the Music Hall, Heise remembers expressing interest in the harp to her mother.

The harpist at that performance, Mary Bartlett, became her teacher. Heise went on to spend a year at Oberlin College and had orchestral training at Wayne State University.

In 1979 she became a professional harpist. There was a lot of work for her those first couple of years. Then she took a different path.

"With the economy I saw it was not going to work out financially so I sold the harp and went to college to study law," she said.

Heise has now been playing the harp again for a year. Returning to it was like riding a bicycle, she said she never forgot. "It's a lot different playing in your 40s than when you're a teen though," she said.

"If you hit the wrong note it's not the end of the world," she said. "You have to have some life behind you. When you've had a varied career path -- family -- it adds a dimension."

Heise and her husband Kurt have two daughters, Katie, 7, and Claire, 6. Neither of the girls is much into musical instruments yet, but that's OK, Heise said.

EmmaJean Woodyard, fine arts program director for the city of Dearborn, has had Heise perform during a couple of events including the Dearborn Community Arts Council's 35th Anniversary Dinner.

"She does a beautiful job," Woodyard said. "The attendees loved it."

The world of the harp has become increasingly interesting over the last 20 years, said Heise. There is a variety of music she can play including popular and liturgical music. She wants to keep a busy schedule.

"One thing you can say is my life is not boring," she said. "It's something I love to do. I'm passionate about it. It makes my little corner of the world a better place."

To contact/perform at your event please email at; Heise4Us@comcast.net