Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Born With It


    My musical journey began on January 26th, 1993; the day that I took my very first breath. I was born into this world with a burning love for music. My first tape was Shania Twain and my first two CD's were Martina McBride followed by The Dixie Chicks. With other influences behind me like the Led Zeplin album my Father always cranked in the car as well as other greats such as The Steve Miller Band and The Doors, my love for music continued to grow deeper roots as I got older. 

    When I was 7 years old, I decided to let my family in on my secret. I told them "I have a concert for you!" I called them all in to the living room, sat them down, and proceeded to sing 5 songs by artists such as, Celine Dion, Martina McBride, Margaret Becker and The Dixie Chicks. Looking back on that day now, I must have sold them that night because my parents and family have been nothing but unconditionally supportive in my career ever since I professed my love of music to them. What I didn’t know then was that there was a long line of music on my Dads side of the family, the King Sisters were cousins of my Grandfather.  Music was in fact, in my blood.

    I grew up in a little town north of Seattle called Stanwood. With two amazing parents and one older brother, I had an exceptionally wonderful childhood. Music weaved in and out of other things that I loved when I was young such as sports, art, and teasing the neighbor boys; whether that was by singing really loud to annoy them or making up songs about them that they hated. I wrote my very first full song in 2001. I was just 7 years old and it was right after 9-11 had taken place. It was titled "Just a Little Girl." The song was about how hard it was being a little girl and seeing so many sad things happening in the world. It still touches me when I listen to it now 13 years later.

    Soon after I started writing, I picked up playing the guitar. I have always loved being on stage and singing to the audience. Since I first stepped on stage at the small age of 5, I have always loved the audience. I've always loved to see them smiling, having fun, and enjoying what I was sharing with them. The best way I can explain it is this; It's like when you bake a cake for someone. You have to put so much into it. You find the recipe, go to the grocery store, purchase the items, put time into perfecting the cake batter and measuring the ingredients just right, bake it for the precise amount of time, flip it out of the pan without breaking it, make the frosting, frost it, and then deliver it to the special recipient-And that is the best part- seeing the cake recipient take a bite of that cake. It's their reaction that is priceless; it makes you feel like all the time and energy you put into the cake was more than worth it-that you just made some ones day brighter. This is the feeling I get when I step on stage and deliver my songs to the audience; like I am giving them a piece of hand-made cake, personally from me and it is an overwhelming happy sensation to see their reaction when I deliver.

    I have grown up with a great family and have been blessed tremendously. A lot of people look at me and think "she has the perfect life".  And I really am truly thankful for how much God has put into my life. But, however, it has not always been as easy as it may seem. I can courageously say that I have never taken a drink of alcohol or done a drug. When I chose music, I knew that it wouldn't be worth it to make those kinds of decisions because I loved music so much (and was very lucky to have found such a passion at a young age!). It has been a tough choice to not choose peer pressure, as silly as that may sound. But, I have seen the devastation that can come alongside drugs and alcohol. My best friend from middle school is a recovering addict, my 23 year old cousin and her baby were killed by a drunk driver, as well as my brothers best friend. I could go on and on with the devastation that I have seen and how it has affected me. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to stay away from things that might seem like a good time at the moment. 

    My point in sharing these thoughts with you is this; just because you don't live a hard life, doesn't mean your life can't still be hard. I write in my songs what I have been through, and let me say it has been a lot. I want to make a difference in peoples lives through my music. I want to make your day, I want to give you your moneys worth out of the ticket you purchase when you come to my show. I want to give you great songs with great music behind them. I want to give my audience and fans music that will reach into their soul and make their heart soar, whether in love, in sadness, or in happiness. I want to pull out the emotions inside of us with the lyric and melody.

Love, Hannah 

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Special Story

    I met Tim Johnson in the Summer of 2008 in Dubios, Wyoming; I was 15 years old. I had been contacted via MySpace about a songwriters retreat called "Horse and Writer". The retreat included a seven day stay at the beautiful Lazy L&B Ranch in a quaint little cabin, spending the mornings working with Number One Hit songwriters, and spending the afternoons riding horses. Since I was a minor at the time my wonderful Mother attended with me. We decided to make a road trip of it. 

    On the road trip I had packed a box full of CD's; maybe 50 or so. And over the duration of our trip, I played through everyone trying to find my number one favorite song (ever!) to share with my mom. After a few days in the car, we arrived in Wyoming and I never did find that song to show her. 

    I was a young songwriter at this point in my life and out of the handful of Hit songwriters that were leading this retreat I didn't really know anything they had written. About the second night there the Hit Songwriters did a writers round and each played one of their hits. When it was Tim Johnson's turn to play he picked up his guitar and started the intro to his song. When Tim started the first verse, tears immediately started welling up in my eyes. The lyrics sung, "She came home, 6 am." As soon as he started singing I realized that was the song I had been searching for for over two days to show my Mom. Tim Johnson was the songwriter of "I Let Her Lie." My favorite song of all time and I had no idea.

    Later on in the week, Tim asked me to play a song for him. I boldly decided to do my Dolly Parton cover of Jolene. He listened to it, was very nice, and then told me I sucked at the end. Little did I know at the time that this was what Tim considered constructive criticism! I felt a little defeated but Tim said it so nicely, as nicely as some one could say "you suck." He also said my song writing was "ok".

    By then end of the week I had made so many new friends and learned so much about songwriting and also riding horses. (Which that had been my first time.) At the beginning of the trip we all received little SEASAC notebooks. Before I left, Tim had snatched mine up and left a little note saying to keep in touch. 

    A month later I made my first trip to Nashville and of course called up Tim. Him, my Mom, and I met for lunch at Sushi-Yobi. I'm not sure exactly what happened that day at lunch, I am not sure what I did, I am not sure why it happened, and I don't think I ever will. However, by the end of our lunch meeting with Tim Johnson we had agreed to cut a record together. Six months later my album "Life's a Drama" was born.

    This very first song Tim and I cut was his song "Life's a Drama." The first day in the studio we were all shocked. Tim had originally said that I "sucked" but by the time we had finished cutting the song it was brilliant. The way Tim was able to give me perfect direction with my vocals, and the way we could work together in such harmony, (except when he said "stop using your Holiday Inn voice!!), it was like magic. 

    My twentieth birthday is in a week (Tim's is actually three days after; the Aquarius thing worked out!). Tim was in my life for almost five years. In a sense, I grew up with Tim in my life; the ages between 15 and 20 are crucial years. They were the perfect years for him to be there. Not only did he help shape me as an artist, fine tune my craft of songwriting, and teach me how to be smart in the music industry (and much much more), Tim taught me so much about life. He gave me advice about relationships, (made fun of my boyfriends who I ended up dumping- Tim you were always right!) about how important family is, and how to take time to enjoy this world amongst the busy lifestyle of this industry (or any industry for that matter).

    When Tim was diagnosed with cancer, I never had a doubt in my mind that he wouldn't make it through. In my mind we would always be creating music together, team Tim and Hannah-always. (Or as we called each other by our nick names, team T-Dawg and Monkey.) I never thought any differently and I don't think he did either.

    Tim passed away from cancer this past October. During the summer we were able to cut 6 songs for the new record. I am so proud of these songs and so was he. And I know he still is as he is looking down on me from heaven. I was right when I told myself that we will always be making music together because he will always be here with me, it just wasn't exactly the way I wanted.

    I miss Tim everyday I breathe, every note I sing, every lyric I write, every strum on my guitar I miss him. I always will. Never to be replaced. I truly believe Tim was such a huge part of who I am today, not only as an artist but as a person also. The memories that we share go on and on and I could tell stories of our adventure for hours. I could tell you about how much we both loved food, our scary subway moments in New York, when we went on a run in LA and he almost passed out from trying to beat me. The smiles and laughs we shared are countless.

    I am writing this because I wanted to share a little bit about Tim and I's story and also express how much this new music means to me. It would be correct to say that theses 6 songs are the last that Tim and I will ever get to create together but I know that that is not true.

    I love you Tim; always and forever will your spirit weave through the soul of my music. 

Love, Hannah