Talking Music: Philippa Hanna
Singer/songwriter Philippa Hanna is back with her brand new album Come Back Fighting. Most of the album was written in Nashville, and she has brought together a range of pop, country and gospel influences, assembling an impressive collection of musicians. With features from BBC Radio 2 presenter Paul Jones on harmonica, world-champion banjo player John Dowling and a leading UK gospel choir.
The album is set for release on November 24, amidst Philippa opening a formidable 29 date UK tour for BGT winning vocal group Collabro and Carly Paoli which comes to Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on November 14.
Andy Howells recently put questions to Phillippa about her new album and tour.
How did you get into music?
I was born singing! My dad is an entertainer and I grew up watching him from the wings of variety clubs. He's a twinkly eyed Irishman and a bona fide crooner. I went out on stage with him at The Maid Marion Club in Skegness when I was 18 months old. It pretty much started there.
How would you describe your sound?
I think it's a real mixture of my influences. I was raised on my dad’s favourites, Simon and Garfunkel, Kenny Rogers, The Eagles, Willie Nelson etc. But I got into soul at a young age thanks to my sister. I was a huge fan of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and all the great 80s pop. So, it's a Country, Soul pop hybrid I guess!
What inspires your music?
I love to sing about real life stuff. One of the magic things about song writing is that you can take a bad situation and make it immediately positive be creating something that can help others. I have a lot of songs about my journey with self-esteem, discouragement, etc.
Can you give us some background about your latest release?
I've been writing songs out in Nashville for a couple of years now. My last record was pretty much out and out pop, and none of these more intimate songs really fitted, (even though they were the songs that people were asking for at shows). So, after my last trip to Tennessee I sat down and thought, 'I have a strong record here, I need to make it.' We booked into the best studio we could find and made some music! I'm so proud of it. 'Come Back Fighting,' is possibly my most honest album ever.
You also have a guest on the album with singer and musician Paul Jones guesting - what was it like working with Paul?
He's amazing! I must admit I didn't even put two and two together until I met him, that he was THE Paul Jones! I knew him as a great blues player. But the minute I shook his hand I recognised the Manfred Mann heartthrob! He's every bit as handsome and charming as he was. My mum has literally never been more excited.
What do you like most about touring?
I love that every day is an adventure where you meet new people. And honestly, I just feel like a fish in water when I'm playing my guitar and singing. My husband Joel comes out on the road with me to play percussion, so we get to experience the adventure as a couple which is awesome.
What can people expect from your forthcoming shows?
I like to share my stories with the audience so there’s a little story time element. Plus, a lot of energy and hopefully very uplifting music!
What are you enjoying listening to now?
I must admit I've been gorging on some of the top forty. It helps keep me motivated at the gym! But other than that, it's always back to my classics. Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Stevie .. The good stuff.
What’s been your best live gig appearance as a performer?
It’s hard to pin down just one! But across the tours I've done in past years, Birmingham Symphony Hall, St David’s Hall and The London Palladium stand out. Amazing venues and crowds. But then you never forget the more unusual intimate ones.
I had the opportunity to play at an Eating Disorder inpatient ward a couple of years ago. It was moving and humbling to share my music with people who were in such a fragile place. I’ve stayed in touch with some of them and I'm pleased to say they are recovering well.
Vinyl or digital?
Where can people keep up to date with you?
- Philippa Hanna’s new album is available from November 24th and can be preordered from www.comebackfighting.com