28 February 2016 (released)
28 February 2016
When Music News catches up with Philippa Hanna in her Yorkshire home, things are busy. As we chat over Skype about Hanna's forthcoming tour, album and single, her husband is busy packing items away in the background.
"It's mad right now I have to say. Always ahead of a tour you are busy trying to make sure you have everything ready. All the right things in the van that you need for a few weeks on the road."
Those weeks on the road will be spent supporting former X Factor winner Leona Lewis across the UK. The tour is taking in venues from Liverpool to Plymouth in three weeks, including two nights at the London Palladium.
"I'm excited to be playing there (Palladium) but I have performed at the venue before in support of Collabro in February last year. It's an amazing place to play and the crowd were really amazing."
Hanna has also supported the likes of Wet Wet Wet, Lionel Richie and another X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson, so this is not a new experience for her. However, it is not easy. Support acts have a tough time as they battle the noise that inevitably proceeds a gig from a big artist, with fans slowly arriving during your set and then carrying on their pre-show chats while you're singing:
"It's not too bad and I get used to it. In these kinds of venues the crowd tends to be a little more supportive. I have played tougher venues. You have to try and win them over quite early by having some rapport and getting them to understand who you are. They are obviously there to see the bigger artists - like Leona on this tour - so you don't want to over stay your welcome but at the same time you have to maximise this opportunity."
The opportunity for Hanna on this tour is to promote her forthcoming debut album Even Now, which is released later this year. The title track is a power-ballad with emotional intent that speaks of trust between two lovers despite everything that's happened between them. There are elements of country-pop to Hanna's sound and the singer will be working in Nashville this summer as she looks to build on her early success.
"The wave of country music coming through is great but I am not traditional country sounding, there's more pop to it. It will be amazing to go to Nashville to see how the industry works there. They produce hundreds of hits a year in those studios and to learn from that will be fantastic."
And how does it feel for a girl from Barnsley having this opportunity?
"It's strange but what I have always wanted. It is hard being an independent singer in 2016. You have to do everything yourself and try and use whatever you can to get publicity and to be recognised. People are not buying music in the same way so you have to look at how you can use tours like this to connect to new fans. Nashville is just another important step."
The boxes continue to be piled up in the background as we chat and I mention that it is apt that we are chatting over Skype, as that is how her voice coach Brett Manning introduced her to Leona Lewis last year. Hopefully they will have more time to chat in person during this tour.
Philippa Hanna supports Leona Lewis during March:
01 March - Bristol Colston Hall
02 March - Cardiff St David’s Hall
04 March - London Palladium
05 March - London Palladium
07 March - Ipswich Regent Theatre
08 March - Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
10 March - Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
11 March - Plymouth Pavilions