Hannah Kirby has always known what she wanted to be – part of a bigger story. At 24, she is well on her way to realizing her dream.
She writes songs. She writes fiction. She plays the violin. She’s been on national television. She’s taken a shot at singing all music genres, from jazz to classic rock.
She is especially fond of Tom Petty, having recently attended his show at American Airlines Center in Dallas with her mom.
“He was wearing sunglasses, but I think he saw me,” she said during a recent interview over brunch at The Rooster Cafe. “We were close to the stage and everyone around us sat down. I was the only one standing up and I was singing every word.”
The Sulphur Springs singer/songwriter started early, with violin lessons, then graduated to singing and performing in the area.
In 2015, she was a finalist on “The Voice.” After that gig, she headed into the studio to record “Fire In My Soul,” which did well, both critically and commercially.
“I still get downloads off of iTunes,” she said. “We’ve sold almost all of the physical copies.”
She spent a lot of time personalizing orders. The CD was released near the holidays, so she stayed busy getting them ready to ship.
“I wrapped a lot of them,” she said with a laugh.
During all this time, the 2012 Sulphur Springs High School graduate was writing songs.
When she steps on The Bowery Stage June 10, Kirby will cover tunes from the Great American Songbook, but she’ll also bring eight new original compositions, including her favorite, “Even If You Break My Heart.”
Most of the time, songs come to Kirby “full grown,” but EIYBMH was different from the beginning.
“I had a piece of it, the chorus, in my head,” she said. “I kept asking it to quit bothering me, but it wouldn’t. Finally, I sat down at the piano and wrote it. For whatever reason, it wasn’t born until it was ready. Songs are like children in that way.”
When she gets the new songs where she wants them, she’ll head back into the studio, this time with an “orchestra sound” in the back of her mind.
“With every song I’ve ever written, I’ve heard an orchestra,” she confessed. “I want that to be the foundation of my music.”
Kirby says the new tunes have another thing in common – they have a driving beat.
“You can snap on 2 and 4,” she explained.
To help her realize the sound in her head, Kirby is currently assembling a group of musicians, including cellist Dace Sultanov and djembe (jem-bay, an African drum) player Louis Raymond-Kolker.
Guitar guru Kurt Bittner will be on the stage during the first half of the Bowery set. Sultanov and Raymond-Kolker will join them for the second set.
“We do ‘Power,’ a song from the first record, with cello and djembe,” Kirby explained. “Dace can play my parts. It sounds really good. I’ve never gotten to do ‘Power’ live where it actually sounded like the record.”
She also likes that Sultanov can harmonize during songs.
“She is able to play a line against my violin – a beautiful harmony line,” Kirby explained. “She makes it sound very big. It’s a cool sound.”
The next release will also be a “concept album.” She hopes to follow the trend and fund the project through internet tools like KickStarter or GoFundMe.
“We might not even do a physical record,” she explained. “We might fund it and then offer free downloads.”
To make a living in the music business these days, an artist must tour and offer merchandise.
Once she releases the new record, Kirby hopes to tour.
But before she tours, she must “reach more people. I have a draw, but I don’t have the draw that I would need to do a tour outside of Texas.”
Everything she’s done up to this point has moved Kirby closer to her dream, and like her rock idol, she’s secure in her journey. She knows she’s got to walk her own path – and she’s OK with that.
“To know I can do those things that give me a clear vision of what I’m supposed to be doing – it’s a feeling I’ve never had before. Now I understand Tom Petty’s song, ‘I Won’t Back Down.’”
As her sound evolves, so does Hannah Kirby.
“A few months ago, I realized I don’t just want to sing. I’m not just a musician. I’m not just trying to tell a story. Since I was a child, I have wanted to become the story.
* * * * * * * * * *
General admission tickets to Kirby’s June 10 show are $15. Reserved seating is $22.
Tickets are available at Winnsboro Emporium, by calling Winnsboro Center for the Arts at 903-342-0686 or at their website, www.winnsborocenterforthearts.com
Check out Hannah’s website,
This show sponsored by Alexander’s Tractor Parts