Hannas From Heaven - Sunday Life

Posted on 08/02/2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

By Aine Toner

With a new album due out and a tour in the pipeline, former music teachers from Armagh, The Hannah Sisters, are looking forward to juggling their pop careers with motherhood.

If a musical gene runs in families, then the talented Hanna Sisters have it in bucket loads. 

The three Armagh sisters - Nuala, Breige and Mary - are planning to take on the music industry when their album, About Time, is released this year.

"We were all music teachers, working full time then we decided to give it up," explains Nuala.

"We still did some sub teaching but we concentrated on music full time. We started touring and writing our own music since then.
"People were asking us why we weren't doing it professionally or hadn't recorded an album," says Nuala. 

"We had been performing in local functions and both myself and Breige had performed in bands.

"When we started as a band, people asked us why not make an album and that's when we decided to give it a go."

About Time is the sisters' second album and explores new ground for the group, in so far as they've written the material.

"We released an album of Irish traditional covers a few years ago. This album is our own music - we've spent a lot of time writing songs and performing for it," says Nuala. 

"About Time is a reflection of where we're at. We were writing songs for it maybe three or four years ago. 

"We wrote individually but would throw ideas together. Maybe it's a sister thing, but it works out that we share the same ideas. 

"A lot of the songs are about time - there are songs called In Time, Time and How Many Days - maybe it's a reflection of us getting older and thinking about the importance of time. But people were also saying it was about time for us to release another album so it has a good title." 

Nuala admits she is delighted about the response they've so far got.
"Our single, Princess Port, was released on our website at the end of October and there's been a lot of positive response from radio stations and newspapers," she says.
"We've worked for a long time on it and we're proud of the end product."

So how do the working mothers balance the heavy mix of family time with working time?

"I have two children and Breige had twins a year ago so we had a lot of time to sit and be more reflective and concentrate on writing," explains Nuala. 

"We didn't do as much touring then. Even when we were pregnant, we were writing.

"It is difficult to juggle motherhood and a career and you are very busy. But it's the type of job where you do some of it during the day and have more time with the children then, instead of that nine-to-five job," she says. 

"We are doing the whole business end ourselves - we divide the work between the three of us. It's great because we our own bosses.
"It's going to be hard when we're touring. Sometimes the families come too, so that's great."

Unsurprisingly, Nuala, Breige and Mary come from a musical family and have another sister and brother in the Hanna clan. Their gratitude to the family for all its support is evident.
"Claire played with us about six years ago and she decided to go back to teaching in London. She still sings with us when she's home," says Nuala. 

"It's through our family's support over the years that we've got this far. My and Breige's husbands have been great and would help us out with the business end of things. 

"Our parents are behind us all the way. We come from a musical family - my father's family would have been synonymous with Irish traditional music and my maternal grandfather was a great fiddle player. 

"So we've been steeped in the traditional music scene but we've listened to all types of music and grown up with music."
It is the harmonious blend of voices that have set the Hanna Sisters apart from other groups. 

"Although there are three people singing, it sometimes sounds as though only one person is singing," Nuala says. 

"Our voices blend really well. I suppose it's the same with any sister or family group. It's great working with and being away with your family. It must be hard for someone working away from their relatives. 

"With us, you can say anything you want or be in a bad mood. We're friends too, which helps." 

With so few Irish traditional singers in the industry, the trio admit they receive a lot of attention.

"We're maybe getting more attention because we're three women. It's funny when we're touring as you meet so many bands that are almost all men, you rarely see any women," says Nuala. 

"It is more exciting and the audience that we're three women. But it's like every area now that women are coming in and taking as much of a role as men. Hopefully in the future there'll be just as many." 

The trio hope to release their album in mid-February before touring around Ireland, both north and south. 

"This is the first time we've actually done a tour of Ireland," admits Nuala, "and it's very exciting. 

"We've done the pub scene and clubs years ago, and some small festivals, but this time we've booked different venues all around Ireland. We're really looking forward it."
For the Hanna Sisters' tour dates or to purchase their single, Princess Port, log onto www.thehannasisters.net.