Pennsylvania native Hannah Richardson is a peanut butter obsessed, Irish fiddle-loving, Harry Potter addicted teenager who is ready to be the next breakout country-pop sensation. This summer, she will be releasing Chasing Rainbows a collection of songs blazing with mandolins, cellos, electric guitars, and lyrics sweetly laced with Southern twang. In advance of the album's release, Hannah kindly took the time to answer some questions via email about the new album, her roots, and more.
Being 16 years old, when did you being singing and decide that you wanted to pursue music professionally? (where are you based?)
Well, I grew up in a small town called Waynesboro, PA but moved to State College, PA in 2013…I have to say, although I’ll always have my roots, State College is so incredible and living here is the best. So, I officially started singing at six years old in my church choir, but got my first solo when I was seven. My pastor was nice enough to offer that the girl singing obnoxiously over all the other kids (that girl being me) get her own song. I think the moment I first realized I wanted to pursue music professionally was when I got offered my first job. At seven, I was offered a position with a dinner theatre about thirty minutes away, (a woman from church had recommend me after that one solo!). My parents initially said no, but after consistent begging, a meeting with the owners, and being told that I'd get to perform in front of hundreds of people every night plus get money, my parents just had to say yes. I also think some “fate" was at play there. There’s no way that after one solo at church I would’ve gotten recommended for an opportunity that offered over 150 performances without some God helping me out.
Are you in school and if so, how do balance music and those responsibilities? Do you have a supportive family?
Well, I find it very hard to balance music and school, but not for the reasons most people would think. My school’s administration is supportive about my traveling, the teachers are helpful about giving me time to catch up, and I'm almost obsessive about keeping my grades up, (I actually have a 4.0 GPA). That being said, I just think the hardest part for me is staying focused while actually in school. You know, people in the music industry are always quick to shout out “school comes first!”, but then they start talking about that homeschooled girl your age who gets to write music all day, and it can make you go, “Wow, I wish I were home writing music instead of here!” However, I have to keep reminding myself that without all of my “adventures” so to speak at school, I personally wouldn’t have half the inspiration and therefore wouldn’t be half as good of a songwriter.
Who are your musical influences/inspirations?
Looking back, I think my parents definitely influenced my music tastes. Some of my favorites are still Fleetwood Mac, Allison Krauss, and Led Zeppelin. Modern-day wise, I love Florence Welch, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran as well as a lot of the film composers like Thomas Newman, and of course John Williams.
What can you tell us about your album Chasing Rainbows?
The album is called Chasing Rainbows, and is set to be released on September 18th, 2017. It’s a very "Pop-Country with a lil’ Irish flair record” as I call it, and was my first-ever album recorded in Nashville, TN. So, I wrote five of the ten songs on the album and also actively collaborated with my producer on the entirety of the project. Side note, but it makes me sad more people don’t realize how crucial producing, (ie. the instruments in a song, the mix of the voice, etc), is to an artist. Look at the song “Shine” by Van Halen. The original version was hard-rock, but Dolly Parton’s was like, “praise the Bluegrass Gods!” My point is that is I personally find instrumentation to be extremely important, so am very thankful I could be so involved in that process on Chasing Rainbows, and hope others love the rocking mandolins, echoey guitars, and insane fiddles as much as I do.
Why did you choose to title the record Chasing Rainbows?
Well, I initially wrote the song “Chasing Rainbows" to talk about a doomed, impossible relationship. Haha! Luckily, that kind of depressing idea eventually morphed into a song more about this idea of people wanting to change things outside of their control. So, that being said, when I was thinking about an album title, I immediately thought of Chasing Rainbows due to its message of acceptance and realizing that we will never be able to change some things, but that doesn’t make us imperfect. Rather, it makes us more perfect and more human.
What are your musical goals? Dream duet or touring partner?
Oh gosh, there are so many dreams! Musically, my goals change every day. My main hope is that I can keep doing what I love. Whether I’m simply singing/songwriting or even being an Entertainment Lawyer for artists who need guidance, I just wanna stay in this world of music and make a difference. As far as partners go, I have so many, gosh! For ladies, performing with Florence Welch or Allsion Krauss would be a dream. For men, a ballad with James Taylor/Ed Sheeran or a rock song with Robert Plant would basically make my life.
Can you talk about your involvement being the "Face of Gomee Girl." How did you get involved and what are your responsibilities?
Gomee Girl’s main mission is improving the self-esteem of young girls. Through positive social media campaigns, school assembly events, and their patches with positive images, the organization is focused on letting every woman know that she can love herself exactly the way she is. I got involved with the company after I discovered their website and reached out asking if I could help. That led to many discussions about partnership opportunities which eventually led to Gomee Girl’s deciding that I should be the face of their company! So, as the “Face of Gomee Girl”, some of my jobs include representing the company in a good light, designing exclusive products, and writing girl-power music. However, the most important responsibility I have taken on is giving advice to girls who are followers of myself and/or the company. How that process works is, a girl writes into www.gommegirl.com/getinspiredwithhannah for advice, I get back to her with the best advice I can give, and then this advice is posted on the page for other girls to see. This creates a community of sorts in which girls can see that other girls have similar problems to theirs, and that they’ll always have a “big sister” they can chat with. I just think it’s the best idea in the world, and really hope it’ll help more girls to realize that they are totally beautiful, amazing, incredible, and perfect exactly the way they are…because they are!
Finally is there one recent release you cannot stop listening to and recommend others check out?
Oh my gosh, I’m totally obsessed with Imagine Dragon’s “Believer”! Seriously, it’s amazing. I was hooked from the first time I heard it on Riverdale.
For more information please visit her official website
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