By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press
Country singer Kylie Rae Harris, who started out stringing together lyrics and performing as a teenager, was one of two people killed in a three-vehicle crash in New Mexico.
Harris’ publicist confirmed her death Thursday, saying family and friends of the 30-year-old Texas native were heartbroken.
“Everyone that knew Kylie knew how much she loved her family and, beyond that, how much she loved music,” publicist Sarah Frost 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.”
Harris was on her way to Taos when the crash happened Wednesday night along State Road 522 in the northern part of the state. She was scheduled to perform Thursday to help kick off the annual Big Barn Dance Music Festival, a familiar venue for her.
She was known from jumping up on stage and singing during past festivals, but organizers said this marked the first year she was officially on the lineup.
A single mom, Harris released her self-titled album earlier this year and had spent the summer traveling to shows throughout Texas.
In her last social media post, she said she was almost out of fuel and 36 miles (58 kilometers) from the nearest gas station. “Dear baby Jesus please don’t let me get stranded in NM,” she tweeted.
Devastating is how Sarah Hearne described Harris’ death. Hearne, the daughter of musician Michael Hearne and one of those behind the annual festival in Taos, said the artists taking stage this weekend will be dedicating their performances to Harris.
“We’re going to let the music play on,” she said. “They’re going to play their hearts out. That’s what she would have wanted.”
Harris’ death comes as she was enjoying success from an EP she released in March. She was scheduled to return to Texas in two days for another show and was booked for more events later this year.
“Her career was just ready to take off. She was about to skyrocket,” Hearne said.
Harris in previous interviews recalled family road trips when she would sit in the back of her parents’ Suburban and sing along with Radney Foster and Jerry Jeff Walker. Other influences included Walt Wilkins and Patty Griffin.
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office said alcohol is suspected as a factor in the crash but they did not release details.
One of the other drivers — a 16-year-old girl — also was killed. The third driver escaped injury. Authorities did not release their names.