Three Sisters - one great sound - Donegal News

Posted on 11/03/2007

Monday 5th March 2007
By Sean P.Feeny
Three musical sisters from Armagh, who all gave up their teaching jobs to pursue a joint career in music, will be performing at the Balor Theatre, Ballybofey, this Thursday.

The Hanna Sisters from Maghery are Mary(piano, vocals) the eldest of the siblings, Nuala (violin, vocals) and the youngest of the band Breige (tin whistle, vocals). The youngest Hanna, Clare, used to play with her sisters but chose a career as a teacher in London. 

The beginning of the tour also marked the launch of their new album’ About Time’, which Mary Hanna said can be described as an “easy listening album for the age group of 20 to 40”.
In February, the sisters were performing in Scandinavia where they have built up a strong following with their beautiful three-part harmonies. 

Their music was produced by Hollywood, as in County Antrim not Los Angeles, producer Rod McVey at Amberville Studios in Cullybackey, North Antrim. 

Rod McVey has worked with artists as big as Van Morrison and more up-and-coming artists like Cork-based American singer and guitarist Sarah McQuaid. 

The Hanna’s’ album was written over the space of three years, with some of the girls having children, priorities changed for a while but now they are promoting their music full-time. 

Mary said: “Nuala has a two-year-old girl Sarah and a baby boy, Padraig, and Breige recently had twin boys, Jack and Tom.
Six years ago the girls recorded a traditional music covers album but this time around the music is written by themselves. 

“Our father’s family, the Hannas, would have been synonymous with traditional Irish music and also on our mother’s side her father was also a great fiddle player” Mary said. 

All of us grew up with the music, going to Ceoltas Ceolteori na hEireann, were classically trained. All four of us went to University of Ulster Jordanstown to study music and then completed our PGCE teaching qualifications at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Being three sisters playing music that would best be described as pop Trad music, people are quick to throw in comparisons to bands like The Corrs, and that’s without even hearing the Hanna Sisters’ music, but then they hear it any comparison is out the window.
Mary said: “I think when people don’t know you or your music, they like to pigeon hole you and want to compare your music to somebody else’s” 

“We all write things individually and then get together to complete the songs. We tend to agree on things quite easily, and it’s great working with your family and people who you can trust”
For about four  to five years the Hanna Sisters played on the pub scene, but then went on to play festivals in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. 

“This is our first theatre tour of all of Ireland which began on last Wednesday at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh”, Mary said.
To date, the sisters have released two singles from their new album. ‘Princes Port’ and ‘Hotline to your Soul’ which both received a good reaction from the music critics.
“There’s a theme of time that runs throughout the entire album. The album title ‘About Time’ came from people who kept asking us when the album would be finished” she laughed. 

‘Princes Port was written by all three of us together. There are five Portuguese guys living and working in Lurgan and they all live together and the song is about them leaving home to come here to work”
Once the Hanna Sisters have completed their tour, it will be time to start promoting again as they are looking to go further afield with their music. 

“We’ll be concentrating on promoting themselves abroad next and hopefully do some festivals around Europe after the Irish tour is finished in May” 

The Hanna Sisters take care of business themselves, whether it’s promotion, management or any other business aspects: “Things may be going a lot slower than if we had proper management, but we’re learning a lot and you have to take responsibility at times.” 

It’s not easy but you have to keep on going and we’re working flat out at it but that’s the way we want to do it and were very happy doing it.”