Hillary Hahn is a musician based out of Northern Kentucky. Hillary has a powerhouse of a voice, an infectious live show, and a heart of gold. Catch her tomorrow on Women in Music Wednesdays with CincyMusic LIVE at 7p!
How did you get into the Cincinnati Music Scene?
It was the opposite of easy. It actually started in New York City. I was there visiting, just walking around by myself for a few days trying to figure out what I was supposed to do in the world when I stumbled upon this girl playing keyboard in a subway tunnel. She was about my age and asked if I wanted to play a song or two? I surprised my usually very shy self by accepting her offer and warmed up by playing a few verses of “Hallelujah”. After that was received well by people passing by I played the only other songs I knew how to play from memory, a few of my early original songs- super dramatic piano ballads that shall never be released!!! Haha! That was the first time I had ever performed anything original, so you can imagine how floored I was that people were tipping me! What? I could get paid for this?! A man with a saxophone walked by and started playing along with me and I was just on cloud nine! It was pure, classic New York City magic. He was so kind and encouraged me to keep playing music. I came back to Cincinnati after that trip ready to ROCK! After creating some videos of myself singing a few Aerosmith tunes and constructing a website, I began emailing every bar and restaurant I could think of that might hire me in both Cincinnati and NKY. After months and months of emails not a single spot would give me a chance as I had no actual gigging experience, not even when I wrote back asking just to play for free to build experience. Nope. I was so bummed out! Then about a year later, it pays to be ballsy kids, I figured I had nothing to lose- so I sent a message with all my info to the biggest venue in town, Riverbend. AND THEY WROTE ME BACK!!! They offered me a Summer full of paid gigs in their VIP Lounge, each of which included two comp tickets to the main stage act that night. I got to see Blondie, The Monkeys, Backstreet Boys, Ray LaMontagne and quite a few more that Summer! My dad drove me to each show, set up and ran my sound... what a pal! The rest is history! Riverbend will always have such a special place in my heart.
What can fans expect from a Live performance?
An interestingly dressed girl playing original songs, with a few 70’s, 80’s or 90’s classics thrown in as well! I have recently gotten destroyed by Pinterest and 80’s fashion- so obsessed! I bought myself a sewing machine last Christmas and have been trying to DIY myself some cool stage looks. Some turn out better than others! Haha! Stay tuned!
How have the past 5ish months been musically?
Musically it has been maybe the greatest time for me ever. Prior to the shut down I was living the exhausting life of a freelance teaching & performing artist. I was responsible for creating 6 different lesson plans per week and having to commute to schools from Union, Kentucky to Terrace Park (Cincinnati) and having to constantly defend my teaching approach and lesson plans... so exhausting, but even after all that work, I was still not even making enough to get by, so I had to deliver groceries and/ or be a lyft driver on top of it all. Oh, and of course I was playing live shows somewhere in all that chaos too. Insane! When everything stopped and I HAD to stay home for a minute and kind of evaluate everything... the creative energy I had been giving away to my students just kind of naturally rerouted back to where it wanted to be in the first place, focusing on MY projects. I was only able to be off work for a couple weeks during quarantine, when Ohio unemployment didn’t kick in I had to go earn my living delivering groceries- which was honestly great because that requires no lesson planning or preparation in anyway, so I was able to go earn the money I needed and then use the rest of my time creating. Since quarantine I have written many new songs and almost finished writing my first two books, released a new single, created & released two new music videos, performed on a radio station in Pittsburgh, rebranded my website, added a blog to my website, read lots of fantastic books, performed all over Cincy & Ky when places started reopening, assembled my own record label (and made the tackiest most awesome 80’s-styled company jackets for it!), organized and performed in a “Live” open mic featuring 30 artists from all over the US from my Facebook page, performed virtually at a music festival in Scotland, co-produced and recorded half of my next record and lots of other creative things. I am honestly pretty pleased with how I’ve spent this weird ass time in the world! I wish that Ohio Unemployment would have helped me out a little more, but I’m proud as hell that I didn’t sit around and let my finances get ruined over this- I got my ass out there and made the cash I needed. I feel like freakin’ John Wayne.
What is next for Hillary Hahn?
Like I mentioned, I have been busy acquiring new skills to make my music business better. I am learning new video editing programs and techniques as we speak for my next wave of music + lyric video releases. I am so pleased to be co-producing my record now with Nick Baverman who is also playing the drums and keyboards. I am also so thrilled and thankful to have Ricky Veeneman on the project! All I will say at the moment is that the next record is called “Glory”, it is being recorded here in Cincinnati, it will be available by the end of the year, and I have never been so proud and excited to release something!
How to support Hillary Hahn Venmo: @Hillary-Hahn-2