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26 Mar

Hannah Williams Interview

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Hannah Williams new Diva of Soul has over the years demonstrated a raw, edgy, authentic vocal prowess which has pricked up the ears of soul lovers all over the world.  Jazzonline has  met her few days before her performance at Gazarte on March 29, 2014.

1- I  read somewhere that you where immersed in Soul music from the day you were born. How is that,and what lead you to Soul music ?
Well, I was brought up in a very musical household. My late father, who very sadly passed away when I was 14, was an incredible musician. He played upwards of 15 instruments and was a great singer and composer. He was also an anglican priest so I was immersed in sacred music from a very early age. I joined the church choir at the age of 7 and learnt all I know about how to perform with others and the construction of harmony right there! Alongside the church stuff, Mum, Dad and my older brother Ollie educated me in all sorts of other music including opera, jazz, folk, medieval, pop, electro, blues. Irish, african and…of course…soul! I’ve always loved singing soul, jazz and blues but it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I really latched on and decided that soul was my future. My first memory of falling in love with soul music however, was when my mum played me Bill Withers ‘Hope She’ll be Happier’. I melted. I cried so hard it hurt and I just knew that someday soul would be part of my life. 17 years later….here I am!!  Thanks Mum!!

2- Tell us some words about the band and how did you meet  “Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers”
A few of us met at University of Winchester. I am director of Foundation Music there (which is our extra curricular music department) and, amongst other things, I direct a gospel choir. Our old guitarist and songwriter Nic Hillman walked in one day to try and poach some backing singers from the choir for his ska band. I messaged him the next day to tell him he was ‘cheeky’ and ask why he didn’t ask me to get involved. Ha Ha! Anyway, I ended up joining the band as a backing singer which was great fun. That project soon came to an end because several of the band members finished their degrees and moved away.At that point, Nic told me that he’d written loads of soul and he wanted me to be the singer. Clearly…..I said “Hell yes!!” and the band was born.
Our Drummer Jimi Needles and bassist Dougie Funk Taylor are still with us, but the rest of the original line up have moved on to other things and other countries in several cases. The current line up is made of fantastic musicians that we’ve met on the road. It’s a great little family and we have huge amounts of fun on and off stage.

3- You have been called the New Diva of Funk & Soul . What do you think about that ?
Ha ha ha! I am very flattered by that. Thanks. I think I am one of MANY new soul and funk diva’s on the scene right now though. It ain’t all about me! It does feel great to be part of the soul revolution though. I really believe that music is heading in a really great direction right now

4- Your first album ‘A Hill Of Feathers’ was critically acclaimed. How does it feel ?
It feels wonderful. We prayed that the soul population would ‘get it’ and…it appears they did. It’s been so interesting and surprising to watch as the album spiraled all over the world. We were so shocked and delighted when we heard how massive ‘Work it Out’ was in Greece. We’re all so very grateful for all your support and love! Especially to Pepper FM who were the first to give the song air time! Thank you xxxxxx

5- When do you plan the next album ?
We’re in the process of writing and testing out new material right now. We took a break whilst I had my first baby – Leo but we’re back on the road and writing and rehearsing like mad so….watch this space for new material within the near future.

6- You have been touring all over Europe. Where is the best audience for your music and why ?
That is a VERY difficult question to answer. With every new territory comes a whole new attitude and a totally different audience reception! We genuinely don’t have a favourite. However…..What we love about coming to Europe is how ‘up for it’ the audiences are. Especially in Greece and Italy. Sometimes in the UK, people can be a bit reserved and embarrassed to get involved. The british ‘stiff upper lip’ can take a while to soften. But on the continent, there’s never any hesitation. If I ask the audience to sing…boy do they sing!! Such passion. I love it!

7-After a short break in 2013, you are back on stage.  What are we going to see and listen on March 29 at Gazarte
You will obviously hear some familiar tracks from ‘A Hill of Feathers’ but also some brand new stuff you won’t have heard ANYWHERE before. We’re bringing you a pretty exclusive new show.


Interview Patricia Graire – March 2014 -

More about Hannah Williams  http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/jazzenda/item/2593-hannah-williams-the-tastemakers.html

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Last modified on Thursday, 12 October 2017 18:04

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