Weekender

Singer, 14, set to release third album, ‘Roots’

Hannah Richardson, 14, has performed live more than 450 times and has a new album, “Roots,” out in July.
Hannah Richardson, 14, has performed live more than 450 times and has a new album, “Roots,” out in July. Photo provided

Local singer-songwriter Hannah Richardson is set to release her third album, “Roots,” next month.

Hannah is only 14 years old, but she has been playing music her whole life.

“Well, music has been a part of my life since I could hear,” Hannah said. “My parents immediately had me listening to music like Alison Krauss as well as bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who, and I loved them. However, I found out that I could sing through church. When I was 6 years old, I got a solo on Easter Sunday and became hooked with being in front of crowds. From that one performance, a member of the congregation recommended that I audition for a show with a professional dinner theater company 30 minutes away. My parents were a little reluctant since I was so young, but I ended up getting the part and that set me on the course of 150 shows with the company.”

In addition to writing original material, Hannah has performed live more than 450 times, including 14 shows at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y.

“I would call my sound pop-country with a little bit of an edge,” Hannah said. “One reviewer of my voice called it, ‘powerful, pure and innocent.’ My first two albums were a combination of cover songs and originals. This meant that people were hearing the best of my voice through various genres and songs rather than what my true style is. ‘Roots’ has all-original music completely written by me, which gives people an idea of who I am as an artist. Hopefully, it’ll give people an idea of whether or not they can associate and jam out to my style … hopefully they will.”

The singer has enjoyed the success she’s had so far but has no plans of slowing down or resting on her laurels. She understands that success has many definitions.

“I am extremely committed to my music,” Hannah said. “I understand the likelihood of becoming an artist like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber is very low, but there is a big difference between making a living and being ‘famous’ (although I’m still shooting for the stars).”

Being a “child star” has not meant that Hannah’s parents were parading her around against her will. Rather, she is the driving persistence behind her success.

“I think there is this common misconception that being a ‘child star’ means that your parents are pushing you all the time, and you never get time to be a kid. This has never been the case,” Hannah said. “I’ve always pushed my parents, and they’ve often told me that it’s too much for them. Although I’ve worked since I was young, I’m head-over-heels obsessed with music and have always wanted it at the center of my life. I was also cyber-schooled from grades one through six which meant that I had plenty of time to play at the park, read Harry Potter and do all that kid stuff. Now that I’m at school, things are a little crazier, but now I can hang out with friends during school rather than after it.”

Hannah hopes that her listeners appreciate that struggles can come to anyone, no matter his or her age.

“I hope what people take away from my music is that teenagers have the capability to express thoughts and opinions of a mature matter in an artistic way,” Hannah said. “I dislike the common misconception that teenagers are completely incapable of holding any thoughts of substance. Sure, some of us can’t, (myself included sometimes), but most teenagers have to deal with tough stuff, often as tough as what many adults go through. Everyone has their stories. On this album, themes such as death and abuse are addressed. ... What I hope is that I addressed these themes in an insightful way that will give both adults and young people an emotional experience while listening to the music.”

Balancing school and a music career can’t be easy, but Hannah always finds her way to the top.

“It’s always a struggle to stay balanced between music and school, but I think that most kids at school have the same struggles with sports, traveling families and other passions,” she said. “The school district is super understanding when I have to travel, and all of the teachers are really nice.”

“Roots” is slated for release in July, and Hannah believes it to be her best work yet.

“This album features songs with crunchy electric guitars, vibrating basses, heart palpitating beats and soaring strings,” she said. “Lyrics from the songs were inspired by stories such as ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Almost Famous’ as well as my own absolutely insanely awkward life.”

Hannah will be playing local festivals this summer throughout the area.

“I’ll be singing at the Central Pa. 4th Fest (on my birthday),” Hannah said. “And (I’ll be at) the People’s Choice Festival here in State College.”

For more information on Hannah’s upcoming album release, visit www.hannah richardson.com.

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