"Throughout your life, I feel most people live kind of awkwardly, always worrying about what people think of them. Ironically, when I’m onstage, all of that goes away. I can be exactly who I am, and anything I’ve been unable to express through words comes out through music."
15-year-old, Hannah Richardson, is making her dreams come true of being a singer. She writes, performs and records her own music and has performed in over 450 live shows!
Wow! Keep up the good work Hannah. We can't wait to hear you on the radio!
Every Ella: Hi Hannah! Tell us about yourself.
Hannah: Well, I am a 15-year-old girl who has red-hair that changes color based on the light, and lives in Pennsylvania! I was born in Virginia, but was was raised a small-town Pennsylvanian girl who just happens to have a slight southern drawl, inherited from her parents.
I’m a part of a middle-class family, and my parents both work in the health care field. Actually, nobody in our family, (besides my Grandma who sings in choir), has ever been in the music scene! I also have a 13-year old, younger brother named Sam. He is super into sports such as soccer and track, and will have nothing to do with music, (probably due to me). However, he is very supportive, and has had to travel numerous times for concerts.
2nd-6th grade, my brother and I were cyber-schooled. This was an incredible blessing from my parents, as it gave us the opportunity to pursue our passions more than we would’ve been able to do so.
In 7th grade, our family moved to State College, PA, and we began going to public school. It was a super big decision for me, but the district was amazingly flexible and supportive of my schedule, and I really wanted to get a “normal” experience. I have enjoyed every moment of being a part of the community so far, and am so thankful to have such amazing friends and teachers.
At what age did you start singing?
I started singing as soon as I could talk! However, when I was six years old, I became a part of the church choir which definitely started my addiction for being in front of people!
When did you decide it was time to start performing for other people?
One Easter Sunday, I got a solo at church. I was so in love with the feeling of performing, and to this day, can’t really explain why. I guess it’s just like becoming a different person. Throughout your life, I feel most people live kind of awkwardly, always worrying about what people think of them. Ironically, when I’m onstage, all of that goes away. I can be exactly who I am, and anything I’ve been unable to express through words comes out through music.
Do you write your own music too?
How many live performances have you done and which one was your favorite?
So far, I have performed in 450 live shows! It still seems insane to me, because I still get nervous...every time. My favorite is really, really hard to choose, but it has to be The Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. The crowd is SO supportive, and cheers you on the entire performance. I’ve gotten a couple of standing ovations there, and just can’t explain how that feels...The first time it happened, I got offstage, and started hysterically crying tears of joy. The director of the theatre was like, “Is she okay?”. Haha!
Tell us about your latest album.
“Roots” is definitely the most personal album I have released. My last two albums showed the best of my voice, through my favorite cover songs as well as a few originals. However, this album is all original music, which means that it'll give people a real idea of whether or not they can associate and jam out to my style…hopefully they will!
This album features songs with crunchy electric guitars, vibrating basses, heart palpitating beats, and soaring strings. Lyrics from the songs were inspired by stories such as Peter Pan and Almost Famous as well as my own absolutely insanely awkward life. Hey, even if you don't like my music, that's okay! You'll probably have something that makes you laugh or cry or just feel good at supporting an upcoming artist who will be thanking you from the bottom of their heart for all of the support.
I really hope what people take away from my music is that teenagers have the capability to express thoughts and opinions of a mature matter in an artistic way. I dislike the common misconception that teenagers are completely incapable of holding any thoughts of substance...Sure, some of us can't, (myself included sometimes), but most teenagers have to deal with tough stuff...often as tough as what many adults go through. Everyone has their stories. On this album, themes such as death and abuse are addressed...What I hope is that I addressed these themes in an insightful way that will give both adults and young people an emotional experience while listening to the music.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a singer/songwriter?
Definitely being creative within the parameters. I have been told at least a million times that my music is not as genre-specific as it needs to be. This has always been frustrating, as I love so many styles of music, that it’s difficult to be creative meanwhile having limitations on your creativity. Actually, my mind refuses to do it, so I’ve stopped the battle.
What I always say is that my music is a combination of Country-Pop-Rock. I like to call it CPR! The lyrics are generally positive and youthful, but are always laced with the slightest bits of rebellion, that give people the opportunity to rock out!
What are your ambitions for the future?
I am extremely committed to my music. I understand the likelihood of becoming an artist like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber is very low, but there is a big difference between making a living and being “famous”, (although I’m still shooting for the stars).
My plan for higher education, (which is extremely important to my family and I), is to become a lawyer and specialize in Entertainment. That way, I can make a difference in artists’ lives, and be in an area where I can achieve my own dreams.
Honestly, whether I “make it” through being a singer, writing music for other artists, or making music videos, I definitely want music to be the center of my life…honestly, I could never have it any other way, and as long as music is there, I’ll be happy.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Probably time-managing everything! With getting straight A’s in school, having a social life, performing in concerts, being the Face of Gomee Girl, (which involves designing products, creating inspiring posts, and giving advice), writing music, and binge watching Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, things can get really crazy.
What do you like to do for fun?
I'm absolutely obsessed with classic movies, so I watch them all the time! Some of my favorites are The Search, On the Waterfront, Back to the Future, and and E.T. Also, I’m head-over-heels obsessed with Game of Thrones and Stranger Things; I mean, c’mon! They’re amazing!
I also love editing films, and making all of my own music videos! When I'm not making music, I'm listening to film scores and soundtracks, (I'm a complete weirdo I know). I LOVE my friends, and love being with them. I'm also CRAZY about Harry Potter and have been since I turned eight...I'm feeling old.
Name one woman who inspires you.
Oh goodness, just one? Well, one of my favorites has to be Princess Diana. We’re talking about a woman who was just so beautiful, intelligent, articulate, and diplomatic. She was a strong woman, which is why I believe she faced so much opposition. In her words, “It’s the strength that causes the confusion and fear. Why is she strong? Where does she get it from? Where is she going to use it?”
Diana was so kind, yet influential. She faced so many obstacles and challenges in life, yet always made it her top priority to help those who needed it more than she did. Another quote I love by her is, “I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts...I do things differently. I don’t go by a rule book. I lead from the heart not the head…”
I hope that through being a singer, as insignificant as it may sound, that I will be able to help others. I want to make a difference in girls’ lives. If they have a bad day, there should be a song to make them happy. Hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, my music will be able to do that; and eventually for many people.
What one piece of advice would you like to give girls today?
NEVER let someone say that you can’t do something! I would have stopped the very first time I sang my solo. From making music videos, to creating a website, to getting involved with companies like Gomee Girl, everything has been done completely through me. NO budget. Just me, a camcorder, and a computer. Not to mention my AMAZING parents who have had to drive me all over the place; that is one thing I cannot take any credit for! They deserve it!
Whatever you set your heart on, you can achieve! Just realize that it takes a lot of dedication and work. However, I completely believe in you!!!!!