In 2010, local musician Yelba Heaton quit her corporate job with Chase Bank to pursue a career in music full time.
Growing up in a musical household in Nicaragua, Heaton has enjoyed singing since she was a child. Now, she stays busy playing shows in The Woodlands and the Greater Houston area on a regular basis.
“I’ve simplified my life,” Heaton said. “I figured out you don’t need a lot of material things to make you happy. I’m just happy being a musician.”
Heaton has been singing professionally since 2001, she said. Before transitioning to being a full-time musician, Heaton was performing at weddings, quinceaneras and office Christmas parties as well as local venues, such as Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, Kirby’s Steakhouse and The Refuge Bar and Bistro.
“I used to run out of the bank—I used to wear a really tight bun, blue Chase shirt, baggy pants—and hop in the car with my guitar,” Heaton said. “I would drive over to Kirby’s, for example, drop in and be like Wonder Woman. I’d run in the bathroom, take out the bun, shake out my hair, put on some more makeup, put on my dress and run outside just in time.”
Heaton and her band specialize in playing a variety of songs from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s as well as popular Top 40 tracks, she said.
“We mix all of that with Latin music, so that when we’ve got a mixed audience, everybody has a good time,” Heaton said. “We don’t stick to one particular genre.”
In total, the band has racked up a 1,000-song repertoire over the years, Heaton said. Although the band plays covers of songs, Heaton has written a few songs of her own and has created three full-length albums, she said.
“I wrote a couple of songs when I was really sad, but they’re so sad I’ve never sang them in public,” Heaton said.
The band is gearing up to travel to Cancun in October for the weeklong Chili Pepper Festival, Heaton said. This summer, the group is working on Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” and Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” to perform at upcoming shows, Heaton said.
“We try to keep current,” she said. “These Top 40 songs, they drop fast.”
Over the years, Heaton and her band have performed during annual galas in The Woodlands, such as Interfaith of The Woodlands’ Celebration of Excellence Gala, she said.
“I like to make people happy,” Heaton said. “I like to see them on the dance floor and watch them just tear it up. I kind of like the sound of my own voice. The little girl in me can’t believe at the end of the day that I’m up on stage surrounded by these amazing musicians. I feel so proud.”
Where to watch Yelba perform
Yelba’s Variety Band plays at several local venues and events throughout the Greater Houston area on a regular basis.
- 13-Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, 7 p.m.
- 14-Bands on the Sand at Moody Gardens, 6 p.m.
- 15-Capone’s Brick Oven Restaurant and Bar, 8:30 p.m.
- 20-Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, 7 p.m.
- 21-Pleasure Pier, 6 p.m.
- 22-RumShack Galveston, 9 p.m.
- 27-Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, 7 p.m.
- 28-Kirby’s Steakhouse-The Woodlands, 7:30 p.m.
- 29-The Refuge Bar and Bistro, 8 p.m.