When Cygnet hosts its annual folk festival, the town’s population quadruples. Musicians from Tasmania and around the globe will hit Cygnet on January 10 for three days of world class folk, ethnic, roots and acoustic mayhem. Local singer songwriter Hannah May will invite her dad onto the festival stage for an unprecedented and intimate performance of her original songs.
Hannah May has worked her way around the stages of Hobart for the past four years, hinting at her ideas about love through R&B influenced originals. As a multi-talented artist, Hannah usually braves the stage alone with a microphone and set of keys – but this January she will be supported by her dad Ian with guitar and vocal harmonies.
Ian is himself no stranger to the festival, having performed alongside The Colemans 10 years ago. This time, Hannah is “really looking forward to having him on board.”
“After having a few sessions with my Dad, I realized how much I loved played my songs with him – and also that it’s not nearly as much fun playing by yourself!”
To Hannah, music has always been about the powerful bonds between family, friends, and lovers. Her songs are both dedicated to and amplified by the feelings of love – and not always her own.
“Most of my songs were and are written about love, breakups, and everything in between,” Hannah reveals.
“Lyrically, I am finding that I am turning to friends for inspiration, as opposed to my own life. There are things that happen, conversations, that I often think, ‘there is a song in that’.”
Hannah’s most recently recorded song ‘Bottle of Tea’ is a classic example of her ability to express her observations on love with grace and profundity. Written about a friend who experienced divorce before finding new hope, Hannah says the song is “universal” and plans to play it at the festival.
“After my application for the Cygnet Folk Festival was accepted, I realized it was ‘that time’ to produce something of higher quality and accessible to a wider audience,” she explains.
“Doing the recordings in a studio session meant stepping back and handing over the technical side of things, which gave me a lot of freedom to focus on the performance and arrangement.”
Hannah’s recently composed song ‘Too Many People’ also hit the studio, and into the microphone the songwriter expressed her frustration toward those “making their own opinions on opinions, as opposed to facts.”
While Hannah has spent many years disseminating the feelings of others, she found inspiration a little closer to home through her recent marriage to her soul mate Grady. The young songwriter describes her new husband as “100 per cent supportive – he is my roadie, my producer, my critic and my manager.”
“One song I wrote when I was 17, I often dedicate to him, saying, ‘this is the song I wrote about you before knowing you’.”
“I sing my other tunes now with more depth and strength, understanding better what I wrote about now than when I actually wrote it.”
“Love in marriage is much deeper. There is that extra strand that runs within the relationship that I never thought existed.”
Fall in love with Hannah May and other local and international acts at the Cygnet Folk Festival from January 10 to 12. Further info and bookings are available at http://www.cygnetfolkfestival.org.
This article featured in Warp Magazine January 2014.