Hannah Griffin sang from an early age. Her first influences ranged from the mix tapes of Greek guitar music and whale song her grandmother made, to her mum’s Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and Led Zeppelin records. Her musical tastes and sources of inspiration have remained varied, which is characteristic of her own developing voice.
Hannah’s interest in jazz came about ‘by accident’ while studying composition at Canterbury University. After talking to a friend who was studying jazz at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, she immediately realised she wanted to sing, but not rock or opera. She transferred to the School of Music at Massey University and began experimenting with jazz standards. She relished the of freedom interpretation. “I began to learn how to use my voice as a creative tool, and with jazz I found my niche.”
As leader of the Hannah Griffin Quartet, she performed with Anita Schwabe, Paul Dyne and Peter Elliott. She appeared on Kevin Clark’s Tui award-winning Sandbar Sessions Live (Best Jazz Album, 2004) and Nick Van Dijk’s Oceans Like This, and has worked alongside many of the great names in New Zealand jazz. Hannah sings with Zirkus, a big band led by Rosie Langabeer, and she appears on the band’s two albums. She also performs in dance covers bands and at Jazz Festivals around New Zealand.
Recent collaborations with Norman Meehan have introduced Hannah to a new area of interpretation, in which poetry has been set within musical frameworks. She remembers being instantly captivated when Norman first presented the songs for Sun Moon Stars Rain to her. “The music was jazz, but with a semi-classical character. The words were so descriptive, moody and beautiful. I was extremely excited by the project. It was the challenge I had been looking for.” Sun Moon Stars Rain led to three more albums adapted from poetry, Buddhist Rain, Making Baby Float, and These Rough Notes, the latter two being adaptations of the writing of contemporary New Zealand poet, Bill Manhire. “There is so much depth in this material. The songs are meaty, with so much to grasp and express. The songs help me reflect on life around me, my relationships and my view of the world - which shows how fantastic Bill’s writing is.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:28