Born in Georgia, Hannah Thomas is no stranger to the Nashville music scene. Constantly touring, the out singer-songwriter has played at many venues across Music City and is coming back to Nashville as the special guest of Antigone Rising when they descend upon Douglas Corners on Saturday, April 5.
Out & About Nashville spoke with Hannah Thomas about coming out and whether or not it does get better, how she would describe her touring life and what other Georgia-born solo artist inspired her to play Eddie’s Attic.
Out & About Nashville: When did you know that music was your passion and going to be your career?
Hannah Thomas: When I was little kid I wanted to be Garth Brooks. As I got older and I expanded my musical horizons, I realized that I wanted to write my songs. I started performing at sixteen and it's really been the only job I’ve ever had.
O&AN: You Kicktstarted your last album and arecurrently running another kickstarter to help get to the studio versions of songs you’ve been playing live for a while now. How has Kickstarter helped you as an artist deliver music to fans?
HT: Without label support it's very expensive to put out a record. Kickstarter has taken grassroots and moved it in to the twenty-first century. This has allowed me to put out the record I want, which is ultimately what the fans want to hear.
O&AN: Since you are kickstarting a new album, is getting the album made and into the hands of fans your focus for 2014?
HT: It's certainly a priority but I also spend a lot of time touring, which is the best way to meet new fans.
O&AN: You tour extensively, if you had to sum up your touring life in one tweet, what would it be? Remember, 140 characters or less!
HT: 4000 miles in 3 weeks and still truckin' ... #tired
O&AN: Your bio has a quote from Amy Ray that says about you. She describes you as having "the soul of old country, and that will always be there, but also a diehard rocker with some punk thrown in the mix.” Can you share your inspirations from each of those genres?
HT: I love all kinds of music. Some of my influences are Terri Clark, Led Zeppelin, Tori Amos, Johnny Cash and Indigo Girls. I guess it's easy to see why it's hard to classify my music.
O&AN: "Pacifier," a song from Goodbye on Wasted Time features Amy Ray and I know you just came out in 2012. Was this your coming out song or did the emotions just coincidentally mirror what was happening in your life?
HT: It was more the emotions that lead up to coming out. That point in your life where you realize you have to live for you and not to make others happy. It was very freeing to get to that point.
O&AN: In the beginning of 2013, you talked toGA Voice about the struggles you were having about coming out—has it gotten better?
HT: I think what they say is true, it does get better. There is a sense of freedom that happens when you take control of your life.
O&AN: In terms of your professional life, do you think the music industry cares in 2014?
HT: We have definitely come a long way. People are always going to find a reason not to like you, if they want to. LGBT artists write some of people’s favorite country songs and they don’t even know. I think a good song stands for itself.
O&AN: How has your songwriting changed, if at all, since coming out?
HT: There is less of a filter. Now I just write what comes out instead of trying to fit into a mold. My music now comes from an honest place and I think people can relate to that.
O&AN: Has the influence of other successful out artists had any bearing on your goals with music?
HT: My goals have never changed, but seeing other out artists, like Brandy Clark, be successful, lets me know I can reach them.
O&AN: The music industry is constantly changing. Where do you see yourself in the music industry? Independent versus major label?
HT: There are many different ways to make it in the music industry now and that's encouraging. 15-20 years ago the only way to be successful was to sign a deal, but now artists like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are achieving success on their own. I'm not sure what the future holds, but I like the idea of having so many options.
O&AN: And how do you define your success in your music?
HT: It varies. Some nights it's having someone request one of my songs, some nights it's reaching the 7-year-old that came with her parents, other nights it’s sold out venues. As long as people are listening, I'll keep playing.
O&AN: Do you ever write songs in the hopes that another artist may get their hands on them and cut them? I ask because I when I hear songs like “(God Help My Mama) I Turned Out Like My Dad” I get a total Miranda Lambert record vibe?!
HT: It's not why I write them, but if Miranda is looking for a song . . . I would be honored to have any artist I respect cut one of my songs.
O&AN: On “Let it Rain” I completely hear some old school Jennifer Nettles influence a la “Tried Hard Enough.” Were you a Soul Miner’s Daughter and Jennifer Nettles Band fan?
HT: Yes! I love Jennifer, she was one of the reasons I have pursued this as a career instead of as a hobby. I feel like she was another artist that blurred the lines of genre, especially in JNB days. The very first time I played in public was at Open Mic at Eddie's Attic, and I wanted to be there because Jennifer and so many other iconic Georgia acts have gotten a jump start to their careers in that building.
O&AN: If you had to pick any song that you wish you could’ve written, what would it be?
HT: “Top of the World” by Patty Griffin
For everything Hannah Thomas, visit herwebsite, 'like' her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. Hannah Thomas plays with Antigone Rising April 5 at Douglas Corners. Tickets are $5.