Hillary Hahn is a strong Kentucky woman with an amazing voice, and a heart of gold. If you have not heard of her yet, get ready – she is going places. Once I saw her recently released video for “Don’t Get Scared, Get Ready” I knew I had to get to know this woman more. And I am so glad I did.
Give us some background on Hillary Hahn…
My start in music happened before I was born- my parents met while they were both working at Willis Music at the Florence Mall in the 80’s! There was never a time when I wasn’t surrounded by music. My mom started teaching me the piano when I was very young- she played for our church and would frequently play show tunes and church hymns for my sisters and I to sing along to at home. My dad used to have me sing Alison Krauss songs while he and his buddies sat by a bonfire in the backyard and played banjos and guitars in the Summertime. I remember one jam session, dad even showed me how to play the broom on the basement floor while they played Neil Young’s tune, “Harvest Moon!”
Dancing was my primary focus until about age 20 when I started feeling like I had much more to say than what dance would allow. I had always loved writing. Stories, poems, songs. Whatever. The first time I ever sang an original song live was (horrifying) and happened to take place in a subway tunnel in New York City! I was living there at the time and stopped to listen to a young girl play the keyboard and sing to the people passing by. She looked up and thanked me for listening and asked if I’d like to play? I was like “no girlllllll i’m good!!” I was too nervous… but she insisted that I play a song. So, I did. I think I played a cover song first just to warm up and get comfortable. When the cover song ended people clapped for me… and I instantly felt like a Rockstar. I then played an original song- to this day it hasn’t been released but it’s a tune I call “Fragile Rose.” Only in NYC would this happen, but during that song a fella walked by with a saxophone out and ready to play (he had been busking all day) and he just jumped right in and played along with me! I absolutely loved it. I had never experienced someone jamming out to my music before! He gave me his business card after the song finished (I still have it!) and encouraged to keep doing what I’m doing.
I’ve been performing music in Cincinnati or at open mics in Nashville/Brooklyn ever since. I’m currently recording my second record (due to release in 2020), creating music videos for the last record (Walking In Cleveland) and preparing to release my first book with an original song in 2020! You can view all updates and teasers on the book release on www.misscelery.org!
What is the backstory to the song, “Don’t Get Scared, Get Ready?”
I was performing at the Woodward Theater a year or so ago. I was dancing with Pones at the Cincinnati Leather Pageant. Our costumes were wild and sexy and the choreography was hot and the audience loved it! Such a great time. After we did our sound check and final rehearsal that day, we had like a five-hour break before we had to be back to perform. A few of the dancers and myself all went to get pizza at Goodfella’s and relax for a bit before our call time. It was warm out and I didn’t really feel like changing out of my wild costume, so I just wore it out- I liked the way I looked in it anyways! While walking up the street with my friends (guys and girls all dressed in fishnets, heels, glittery lingerie pieces and lots of leather), we passed a few young ladies walking by in very polite and tasteful dresses with tiaras on. One of the girls wore a “bride-to-be” sash so I congratulated her and smiled their direction! They didn’t even say thank you? The whole little group looked at me like I was some sort of three-headed snake. They just walked away very offended. I was so struck by that… I was blown away by how judgmental they were, and they didn’t even know us… that’s where the opening lyrics came from:
"You girls are cute, in your beige pant suits
Do what you do, what feels good for you
I like to feel the midnight air on all my skin."
Pizza and conversation that night were intense. We talked for hours about being a woman today. Not just the women in the group were pissed but the drag women at the table were annoyed about how frustrating it is that other girls would rather roll their eyes than have each other’s backs. This song to me is my message to the world, letting everyone know where I stand. I am a Kentucky-raised woman with Southern values and loyalty that runs deep. I fully support and love the LGBTQ community. I think we should all look out for each other- no matter how one identifies. That’s where the bridge lyrics come from:
“Fear is fear, no matter what is underneath,
Love is love and it can solve everything,
We’re all the same, we all just need a friend,
Someone to walk us safely to our car when the night ends.”