That sound is the voice of Hannah Gill. Many have come before her but, none have been like her. The mature vocalist and singer songwriter has an extensive range and her experience is growing though she has her homegrown talent from Easton, MD. An active particpant in high school musicals and talent shows, Hannah Gill has been singing from an early age, Gill says, "my parents exposed me to a lot of music. I love folk music and plenty of ragtime, jazz, especially Ella Fitzgerald as well as a bunch of acoustic music – the Avett Brothers, artists like that. Real artists.”
As soon as producer and musician Brad Hammonds heard her, he understood that Gill was something real.
“She came in to record a couple of songs. She opened her mouth and began singing. I turned to my partner, producer Reed Taylor and said, ‘This is crazy. She’s so good.’”
That day the pair laid down two tracks, takes on Kimbra’s “Two Way Street” and Christina Perri’s “Distance,” both on the EP.
“I love the way 'Two Way Street' flows,” Gill explains. “And the lyrics for “Distance” have always grabbed at me.”
Hammonds knew he needed more from her – as soon as possible. As someone with a long track record in music, already renowned as a guitarist and composer through his own three albums, he understood what he was hearing. This wasn’t someone raw who needed to be developed. Hannah Gill was the real thing, arriving fully-formed.
“She’s so mature,” he says. “She’s an old soul, both as a vocalist and as a person. She’s comfortable with herself. That’s hard to find with anyone.”
Soon four more tracks were in laid as Gill accompanied by Hammonds, along with a spare group of double bass, drums and trumpet crooned her way to the effervescent and sparkling sound. Brad Hammonds and Greene Street Music's musician's are an ideal accompaniment for someone with the kind of vocal sophistication that conveys deep emotion without resorting to histrionics or autotune synthesized vocals.
When he listened back to the songs, Hammonds signed her to his label, Greene Street Music, the first artist he’d wanted there.
“She’s just so good. I simply had to be a part of that. She has that wonderful, deep voice hearing her, Hannah’s just so exciting, she’s got such a future.”
Her first New York show at Café Vivaldi drew a packed house and that same weekend she made the video for “I Feel Awake.” Filmed in back-and-white, it’s a portrait of a singer who doesn’t need artifice. Simply being herself is quite enough.
In the studio or onstage, Gill is spontaneous. After all, she notes, “the whole point of music is to experiment.”
And she’s smart enough to keep her home life and her new career separate.
“I don’t say much about it. I really don’t want to be that girl. But some people at school will stop me in the hall and say they’ve seen the video on YouTube. That’s cool.”
For now she’s content to take things one step at a time, to catch her breath in between. Her feet are firmly on the ground, and she refuses to be carried away by it all. Her live band – Hammonds, Mathias Kunzli on drums, bassist Jason DiMatteo and trumpeter Matthew Jodrell – brings a wealth of experience with them, ranging from work with Paul Anka to Regina Spektor. They know talent and they see it in Gill.
Every journey begins with a single step, so the proverb goes. Hannah Gill has made hers into a giant leap.
“I’m very grateful for everything that’s happened so far. I’m going day by day. If it takes off, that would be phenomenal. I don’t know where I’ll go musically, there’s so much to try. But I’d love to stay with the same group of musicians. They’re incredible.”
That giant leap is going to be the first of many.
Hannah Gill’s debut launched with a concert at the Stolz Listening Center (Avalon Theater) in Easton, MD on March 6, 2014.
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