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Omaha Magazine

HARLOW: Rising Star Bets on Herself

Nov 01, 2022 09:57AM ● By Julius Fredrick
Harlow Sitting looking at the camera

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Ever since the art of making music became an ‘industry,’ the path to stardom has remained obscure, lying somewhere beyond the quantifiable. Record labels and producers would hedge their bets on prospective artists, and if especially fortunate, hit upon generational talent. A musician’s career was a gamble for all involved; a record deal hardly binding until sealed in rouge by lady luck.

However, as up-and-coming pop sensation Kiana Meradith—better known by her stage name, HARLOW—is well aware, even star power can be converted into ones and zeroes these days.
“With the way that things work now, you’re sort of proving yourself [online] with song after song after song,” she said. “Content consumption is so high, and there’s a lot of demand to keep up with consistent releases.”

Such urgency is familiar to creators and users of digital media alike—the endless torrent of data swallowing up all but the most viral of content, and just as quickly, the algorithm-led focus of its consumers. 

“There are so many people doing what you want to do, and they’re all online. You have a lot of competition at all times, which is actually quite a good thing…but there’s pressure,” HARLOW noted.

In part, this is because major labels no longer have to roll the dice, nor ante up initial promotion costs. The cards—streaming figures, social media data, trend projections—are known well before chairs are rolled to the conference table.

“The record labels, they were more involved in the artists themselves,” reflected Jim Prchal, who’s booked HARLOW for multiple gigs at his West Omaha bar and music venue, Barrel & Vine. “But now it’s like, ‘hey they’re good, but let’s just look at their numbers.’”

In addition to Barrel & Vine, Prchal is a co-owner and partner at the Prchal Peterson Group, an accounting firm that serves clients nationwide—many hailing from Music City, USA.

“One of my friends in Nashville, he was a VP of Sony Records for 15 years,” Prchal said, “and the biggest thing with these artists now is they got to get into TikTok. 'Tiktok numbers through the roof? Streaming numbers through the roof? If they’re good, we’ll find them. If they’re not? We’re passing.' It’s that simple anymore.”

“She’s getting traction on her followers,” he said of HARLOW’s climb, “she’s got a good vibe, she’s got good energy, an incredible voice. She’s an amazing musician…I was pretty surprised by her range. It just blew me away.”

Photo by Bill Sitzmann


Having only begun her pop career in 2020, HARLOW is making tremendous progress, with three singles—“Haunted Houses,” “Dirty Mouth,” and “Titanic”—totaling just under 845,000 streams at the time of writing. Each has made the awards circuit, with “Haunted Houses” and “Dirty Mouth” consecutive finalists for the 2021 and 2022 Unsigned Only Music Competition, respectively, and “Titanic” earning a finalist position at the International Songwriting Competition (Performance Category) in 2022.

HARLOW believes her country music roots encourage lyrical depth, whether over guitar strings or synthesizers. 

“I do have a history in country music, and that’s what I was raised on,” she said. “From a writing perspective, I still like to have my foundation in that. I like storytelling, and to be a good songwriter is really important to me.”

“Taylor Swift’s Lover album had just come out, so I was listening to that a lot when I wrote ‘Haunted Houses,’” she said of her debut, and presently, most popular single. 

“Somebody I knew closely was going through a difficult time, and I was thinking, ‘you’re totally doing this to yourself, you’re ruminating, you’re going back to this thing that’s not good for you, you’re kind of…haunting yourself,’ she explained. “That was where the concept came from.”
After enrolling at Belmont University in Nashville, HARLOW made area connections of her own, freelancing as a musician and actress, even lending her voice talents to a video game in what she describes as “a big learning experience.” 

“One of the things that I learned in Nashville is that you’re a small fish in a really big pond,” she explained. “What’s really cool about Omaha, it’s a small big town, so the word of mouth for me was really positive…getting to play at Barrel & Vine was so exciting. It was the first show I’d done here in Omaha that I really felt like I got to show off what I can do. That was awesome.”

Between hustling in Nashville, cultivating a homegrown fanbase in Omaha, and fanning her social media presence worldwide, HARLOW’s decision to bet on herself is paying off.

“Now, I’m usually writing and recording with people in Nashville. I’m lucky with the people I’ve been able to work with there,” she said, forgoing details sealed by a non-disclosure agreement a 1,000 miles away. “I got through a couple of the right doors to work with some really cool people.”

“I guess what I can say is, I’m very happy,” she beamed, cards yet to play. 
Visit to learn more
about HARLOW.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  
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