Philippa Hanna: Country With A Whole Lot of Soul [Interview]

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Philippa Hanna is one busy girl. One of the biggest names on
the UK gospel music scene, she supported Lionel Richie on tour across UK arenas
in 2012 and she campaigns for self-esteem in young people. After a successful crowdfunding
campaign, Grammy-winning producer Eliot Kennedy came on board to record her new
album ‘Through The Woods’ and she appeared at The Big Church Day Out, a huge
two-day festival. She’s been interviewed on BBC Radio 2, is an advocate for
children’s charity Compassion, has visited Haiti with them, has just come back
from CMA Fest and is about to publish her second book.

What’s more, she had time amongst all this to incorporate
some country into her music on the album ‘Out of The Blue’, full of
genre-bending tracks played on instruments like the mandolin and double bass
that give the whole record a great rootsy feel. I interviewed Philippa for an
insight into her new record and what makes her tick.

First of
all, how was it heading to Nashville for CMA Fest? Was it your first time
there?

It was
indeed my first time to Nashville and it was AWESOME! I've always dreamed of
visiting. My family brought me up on country music. 

Your
current project is your upcoming album ‘Through The Woods’. Tell me a bit about
this record, and the writing and recording process, what inspired it, etc.

The album
is a narrative of my journey over the past 8 years. It has a few fairytale
themes running through it. Songs like ‘Apples’ talk of being fooled by a
poisoned fruit and falling asleep for years. That's what being in the wrong
relationship is like! And songs like ‘Cherry-Coloured Coat’ – my 'red-riding
hood' song is about being protected in dark places by my faith.  I
recorded the album at Steelworks studios in Sheffield with Grammy award-winning
producer Eliot Kennedy. I co-wrote most of the songs with Eliot, James
Jayawardena and Roo Walker. 

What’s
your favorite song on the record?

I'm
attached to 'It's Just a Song', a melancholic ballad about the power of a song
to cause nostalgia. Just a few bars can bring back the full force of a
heartbreak and the glitter of a romance. Music is so powerful. 

Who are
your musical influences?

So many! I
love good songwriters. The Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John,  Joni
Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Brad Paisley, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton,
Kenny Rogers, The Police, Toto, Michael Jackson Jonny Cash. Too many! But in
truth my biggest influence is probably Walt Disney. It's the first music you
really hear as a kid! 

Who are
your personal influences? Family members, a certain life experience?

My dad is
my biggest hero. My earliest memory is of watching him on stage. He's a
wonderful singer and entertainer and introduced me to country music. My faith
is also a huge influence. I became a Christian in 2004 after a really difficult
time. Faith changed everything in my life for the better. 

What does
your music sound like?

People say
it's got a country flavor! But with folk and soul influences. I play acoustic
guitar and sing and love a good groove as well as a good hook. 

Why should
people be listening to Philippa Hanna?

Hmmmm…. I
would say, my music is quite different yet feels familiar and (I hope)
inspiring. I try to be very honest. 

What’s
next for you? I know you do a lot of charity work, but is the release of your
new record going to take precedence?

I really
want to use the platform I have to raise awareness for the charities I work
with. And I'm praying that this record expands that platform!

You can find Philippa on Facebook and Twitter and pre-order 'Through The Woods' on iTunes.

You can listen to a track from 'Out of The Blue' here:

 

You can watch the new video for 'Lighthouse', Philippa's new single, here:

 

Posted by Vickye.
If you want to check out my own blog
it's For The Country
Record
, and you can follow me on
twitter @planmymistake. You can email
me at vickye.countrymusic@gmail.com.

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