beach_and_pier_-_2200x270_-_with_npr_and_cal_lu_1.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Walter Hyatt Returns with 'Unfinished Business'

Walter Hyatt's widow, Heidi, has finished one of her husband's last albums. The singer-songwriter who inspired Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith left more than 40 tracks behind when he died in a plane crash in 1996. Some Unfinished Business showcases the variety of styles that Hyatt played and wrote.

When Heidi Hyatt learned her husband had died she knew she had to finish his work. But for a long time, it was hard for her to listen to his voice, particularly on songs she had never heard before. After 10 years or so, she found herself more able to approach his work. She now regards his voice as something she can give to other people.

People who knew Walter and his music helped her finish the songs. David Ball, who was in the group Uncle Walt's Band with Walter and Champ Hood, sings in the tune "Deeper than Love." The Jordanaires, who sang harmony behind Elvis on many of his recordings, sing on "Reach for Me." Walter never sang with the Jordanaires, but Heidi says she thinks he would have loved to work with them.

Walter wrote the song that closes the album, "I'll Come Knocking," before he and Heidi met. Heidi imagines he was working on recording it in a different way when he died. She says she knew early on that the album should close with the song, in which his voice stands out so clearly.

Heidi says Walter loved to perform. She says it was hard for him to come home because being out and playing was what he wanted to do most: "For him, that was the perfect place."

Walter and Heidi's children were very young when he died — Taylor was 6 and Rose was only 8 months old — so they're getting to know their father through his music. Heidi took them to tribute shows but says she didn't push them to play music. Still, Taylor is a guitar player, Rose plays piano, and they both love to sing. Heidi credits her children's genes. Taylor, at 18, already knows how to write a song.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.