Atlanta singer/songwriter Hannah Thomas began performing at age sixteen. Since then she’s made a name for herself, opening for Zac Brown, winning The GA Lottery All Access Music Search, opening for acts like Zac Brown and performing with musician like Shawn Mullins. Before Thomas heads to Chicago play Uncommon Ground, she spoke with Our Town about her influences and inspirations.
Our Town You started playing young. To what do you credit your early drive?
Hannah Thomas I've always known I wanted to do this for a living. My parents were very supportive. My dad taught me that if I wanted something I'd have to work for it.
OT Where do you find inspiration?
HT Early on I wrote a lot about the world around me. Over time I've started to find inspiration in my own life experiences. The more life I live, the more I have to write about.
OT Do you write towards a specific album or at a certain point do you just realize you have enough songs for an album and go from there?
HT A mixture. As I am writing songs I usually realize there's some kind of theme and so far each album has had a song that describes that theme. It's usually by accident. This album was originally going to be titled "22 Page Story" and then I wrote "Goodbye On Wasted Time."
OT Who are your influences?
HT I'm a big fan of many genres and my influences reflect that. Just some of them are Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Terri Clark, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt. In my early teens I was very fortunate to find a friend in JR Cobb (Atlanta Rhythm Section). He taught me a lot about music and how to develop my craft. The things I've learned from him over the years continues to influence me every day.
OT Why do you think so much interesting music comes out of Atlanta?
HT It's great melting pot of cultures, from the gospel music of the old south, to the overflow of underground rock in Athens, to Southern Rock and Soul in Macon. [Plus] the New Country sound that rose from the strong singer/songwriter scene with the inclusion of folks like The Indigo Girls and Shawn Mullins the was due to believers like Eddie Owen, founder of Eddie's Attic in Decatur, now at Eddie Owen Presents in Duluth, GA.
OT What’s your favorite song to cover and why?
HT Gypsy Boots by Terri Clark, because it mirrors my own life and it's a lot of fun to play on guitar. Many people have never heard the original and don't realize it's a cover.
OT In terms of marketing yourself and working as an indie artist, who have been your role models?
HT Amy Ray. She has taught me not only how to market myself but the kind of person I want to be known as in the business.
OT What was your experience like using Kickstarter?
HT I was shy about the idea at first but was overwhelmed by the response and support I received from the fans. I definitely could not have made this album without them. I'm forever thankful for that.
OT Who is your dream audience member?
HT I always love when people come to listen but if they want to get up and dance that's always okay by me.
OT How do you stay sane on the road?
HT Always remembering why I'm doing this is key. Every night I get to do what I love. When I hit the stage and see people’s faces and them singing along, there's no better feeling. Honestly, I probably stay more sane on the road than staying in one place.
OT What are some favorite venues?
HT Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Theater (Duluth, GA), Bluebird Cafe (Nashville), Akron Civic Center (Akron, OH) and hopefully after this Uncommon Ground in Chicago!
OT What are you looking forward to doing in Chicago?
HT If I get a chance I'd love to go check out the lake front. I hear pizza is a must so I've definitely got have Chicago slice while in town. Word of mouth says Pizano's is the place to get it.
Hannah Thomas plays Uncommon Ground May 18th at 8 p.m.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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