I saw Hannah Ellis perform in Nashville some years ago and was instantly drawn to her songwriting. Around the same time, she appeared on a live stream with Abby Anderson, an artist I was also a fan of, and my admiration for the talent behind the heartbreakingly personal ‘Officer Down’ grew. Now, Hannah Ellis is about to capture the hearts of fans in the UK as she is set to perform at Country 2 Country, before heading back to finish up the record she’s been working on.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
I grew up singing, and then really got into country music in middle school, so I always had a passion for it. But I was pretty good at school so I ended up getting a full ride scholarship to college. While I was still in high school, I took my little sister to see the Hannah Montana movie. This whole, small-town girl pursuing a music dream, singing in this movie, gutted me and I cried the whole time. I go home and I’m like, ‘Mum, I think I’m supposed to be a singer. I think that’s what my calling in life is.’ So she was like, let’s call your dad. So we call my dad and he says I’ll come over in the morning and if this is not just some emotional response we’re having to this movie, we’ll see what that would look like. He was like, this isn’t some sport, you can quit in a year. I literally never looked back. We had a conversation and they basically said we would still love for you to go to college, but we’re absolutely behind you and want to help you in any way we can to achieve your dreams.
What music did your parents play to you on long car journeys growing up?
I would say it was such a variety. Both my parents are good singers, so music was a huge part of our lives growing up. My mum, half the time she’s listening to Christian radio, and half the time she’s listening to top 40s and then my dad was way more of a country listener, soulful country, I guess. Maybe you’d say like Ronnie Milsap and the Gatlin brothers – lots of harmonies. Then as I got into middle school, I got into like Martina McBride and Jo Dee Messina. Faith Hill, all those powerhouse women of the 90s that we got to grow up with. That was really impactful. When Taylor Swift came along, that was life changing for a person like me, I grew up listening to these women sing about things that I couldn’t relate to as a 13-year-old. So when Taylor came on the scene, it was like, a whole new world of, she’s singing about stuff that’s happening to me right now. So that just continued my love affair with country music.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF MAVERICK MAGAZINE. AVAILABLE AT C2C!