State College singer-songwriter and recording artist Hannah Richardson, 16, has sung in more than 500 live performances for various festivals, concerts, tours, anthems and charity events across the United States.
She’s performed in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlantic City and Chicago and in venues like New York City’s Apollo Theater and The Nashville Palace.
Now, she has released “Chasing Rainbows,” the album she recorded in Nashville this summer. She’s also gearing up for some touring with the album this fall, with stops that include Colorado and Michigan.
With “Chasing Rainbows,” Richardson wants to share a message of positivity with both the State College community and her audience of young fans across the country. Recently, she spoke to the CDT about her daily life, highlights of her young career and her hopes for the future.
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Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
A: (laughs) Well, I usually stagger out of bed, brush my teeth and then make like three cups of coffee. I’m basically dead without coffee. I inherited it from my mom, I think.
Q: What is a normal school/work day for you?
A: Well, I wake up at 6:30 a.m., leave for the bus at 7:15 a.m., go to school, get home at 4 p.m and/or go to a club like National Honors Society, Technology Student Association, etc. Then, I do my homework, work on music stuff (rehearsing, songwriting, social media posts, booking, etc.), take a walk, as I am totally addicted to having some alone time to just listen to music and relax. Then (I) usually watch some YouTube videos, binge something like “The Office” or just hang with friends.
Q: What were your childhood ambitions?
A: I wanted to be an architect until I turned 6 and realized I wasn’t a huge math fan and was artistically challenged. Then I began singing in choir, and decided early on that was what my heart was set on.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Truly, music is what I love to do in my spare time. When I’m not working for a commitment, my fun is writing lyrics, coming up with melodies, making up orchestrations for short films, etc. Of course, if I’m totally “music-ed out,” then I’ll take a walk, read the Harry Potter series for the 80th time or binge some “Gilmore Girls” or “Game of Thrones” episodes.
Q: Who are your favorite artists and why?
A: That’s always such a hard question because I have so many. Seriously, my Spotify playlist called “Listen to These” started with just five or six songs and is now more than 300. Back to back, there’s James Taylor, The Clash, The Civil Wars, then the Hamilton soundtrack and on and on it goes. Some of my all-time favorites, however, are probably Florence + the Machine, Alison Krauss and, of course, Led Zeppelin.
Q: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
A: Artistically some of my biggest inspirations have been those who take risks musically. I think today we’re starting to see this shift from the bubblegum-pop “mainstream” radio to a more culturally diverse sound. All you have to do is look at people like Pharrell Williams or Florence Welch and hear there is becoming a lot more overseas instrumentation being used by American artists. I saw an article recently talking about how this is even being translated into film scores even more today, as directors are looking to convey different emotions than people are used to feeling.
In my personal life, my inspirations come from everywhere. Usually, the best songs come from extremely passionate emotions. It’s when I want to say something so badly but can’t find the words. For me, that’s the one saving grace; while other people are often silently suffering, I can actually go home and just scream through singing, and it’s somehow socially acceptable.
Q: What has been the proudest moment of your career and your life?
A: Any time I perform for kids, I always feel that’s my proudest moment. One of my all-time favorite shows was putting on this school assembly for about 750 elementary schoolers all at once (1,500 the whole day). It was this incredibly surreal feeling of having all these beautiful children who knew all the words to my songs, coming up, asking for autographs, screaming and chanting my name. It was crazy! Most of all, it was just feeling that I was making what was probably just another day at school a bit more interesting.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A: Well, my friends are always amazed I’m such a grandma about my phone. I have an iPhone 4 that’s my brother’s old phone, (he’s younger than I am), and I refuse to bring it to lunch at school because I hate that people barely have actual conversations anymore.
Q: What are your personal and professional goals for the future?
A: Oh gosh, there are so many goals. Musically, things are changing every day. There’s constantly new challenges, new curveballs and of course, more good things that come. My main hope is that I can keep doing what I love. Whether I’m simply singing/songwriting or even being an entertainment lawyer for artists who need guidance, I just want to stay in this world of music and make a difference. Personally, I’m hoping to maintain some sanity in this crazy world and know that I’m contributing in some way to humanity. That’s enough for me.
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