Hannah Birtwell is a singer-songwriter from Easton, who has already had a track played on BBC Radio Norfolk. We chatted to her about conquering her nerves and preparing for the Unsigned gig at The Waterfront in Norwich on Sunday 19 May.
You said you’ve been singing since you could talk; did you grow up in a musical household?
My mum used to perform in musical theatre and danced. We did not particularly have music playing but since the age of five at school I have learnt various instruments but none to a high level. I just always loved music and to sing. I’d take part in all the school musicals. Mum has some embarrassing videos.
You entered Britain’s Got Talent when you were 11?
It was terrifying. It was an exhausting day and while it was fun I felt very nervous at first. I sang the Amy Winehouse version of Valerie. I didn’t get to the judges but I was asked to return two years later. I also auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent last year at The Waterfront but haven’t heard anything.
Following another competition, Teen Star, I was selected for a showcase and Future Music asked me to work with them as part of a development programme. Each month I spend four hours in a music studio writing and recording. I don’t play instruments but use Logic Pro x. Though I have started to learn the guitar. I can play Shape of You by Ed Sheeran.
What made you started singing seriously?
I realised other people thought I had a nice voice too and I sang at my year six leavers service. I’ve been writing songs one or two years. I now play at events, charity gigs and am being booked for festivals. I have also sung live on Radio Wymondham and one my tracks has been played on BBC Radio Norfolk. I am also looking to do more open mic nights. I started off just doing competitions, then I started doing gigs last summer. It was pretty scary. One of the first things I did was at the Norfolk Show and all my school were there.
What style of music do you perform?
Pop and RnB. People say I sound a bit like Ariana Grande but I don’t hear it.
Why did you enter Unsigned?
I want to be a performer, I don’t really care whether it’s on a big stage or a small stage. My mum told me about Unsigned. I entered for the mentoring, experience and the chance to play The Waterfront and gain exposure. I thought Unsigned could really benefit me because one of the things I struggle with is performing. The first time I performed on stage I looked like a rabbit in headlights. I’ve changed a bit since then.
How are you feeling about playing at The Waterfront?
The sessions at The Garage have been going really good. I’ve got my set ready. We’ve worked on my songs and how I’m going to be performing them. I’m feeling nervous and excited. It’s quite intense. I’ve performed at places with quite a lot of people, so this is somewhere in the middle. Every time I go out I get so nervous, but I use the nerves in a good way. My whole family, my best friend and some school friends are coming.
In the run-up to the gig, each will get private tutoring from professional music artist Millie Manders, the chance to record a demo in a professional studio and have their very own photoshoot.
Millie said: “I think all the acts I’ve been working with have excelled themselves in these sessions. They all have fantastic songs and I am very excited to see them all shine on stage at The Waterfront on 19 May. I feel honoured to have been working with them all.”
The Unsigned project was created to provide young musicians with the opportunity to take their music, performance and professional skills to the next level.
It gives them valuable, focused training time with experienced professional music artist Millie, who helps them improve their artistry alongside music career mentoring and marketing advice tailored especially to them.
The young musicians will be provided with video captured from their performance to help promote themselves.
“Our work is all about supporting and encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their talents – this project does just that and has been a real success. I have heard them all rehearsing in our music room with Millie over the last few months and can’t wait to see them on the stage.”