I was at an event last year and while sound-checks was going on, I heard this song ‘Lighthouse’ playing and was captivated by it. I then asked who the artist was and I was told ‘Philippa Hanna’. I immediately bought her album of iTunes. There’s something about her lyrics that is engaging. Philippa released her debut album ‘Watching me’ in 2007 and has grown from her roots in the Gospel scene to be one of UK’s most engaging and inspiring songwriters. With over four albums, her music has offered a positive message that has touched the hearts of audiences world over.
We are so privileged to have her with us at our annual worship event ‘Engage’ this year. She loves Scotland hahahah!
Well you can get to know more Philippa Hanna in my exclusive interview with her.
Hello Philippa, It’s a privilege having you on iTestify blog, for a few of our readers who have never met you, could you please tell us, “Who is Philippa Hanna?”
She’s a girl – Bubbly blonde and northern. She has an Irish entertainer father and a school teacher mum. She’s a thinker, a dreamer and a little bit of a nutter. She’s always written songs and came out of the womb singing. She’s a born again Christian as of 10 years ago. She married a pastors kid and they have a Jack Russell cross. No kids yet. Wow this third person business makes me feel like a diva! Lol.
Hahahah I know right? ‘A little bit of a nutter’ I like that; that’s what makes you You. So tell us what was growing up like for you especially coming from a musical family.
I grew up in Barnsley, watching my dad from side of stage at shows and learning all the lines from Pantomimes my parents were starring in! I went to a normal school and did lots of normal things.
Awesome. Your dad is described as a travelling performer, how exactly has his life style and career influenced your life today?
I love the road! I feel free on the motorway. And I get itchy if I’m home too long. More than anything though, it’s taught me to work hard.
Thank God for hard-working parents. Since you became a child of God, your life and music seemed to have changed. How did it happen?
Well, sorry to be pedantic but I’ve always been a child of God I just didn’t know it 🙂 But at age 20 I invited the Holy Spirit into my life. I became friends with some Christians and their love really witnessed to me. From there I began attending the odd Christian event here and there. One night I experienced a sense of God’s presence during worship and asked Jesus to help me turn my life around. That moment the Holy Spirit made His home in me. When the Holy Spirit in dwells it just transforms you from the inside out. It changes your perspective on everything- like looking through a clear windscreen for the first time. I realized there was a bigger picture and a purpose for my life.
Wow, you’re so right there. Always been a child of God but didn’t know it. Thankful for the right friends God placed in your path. Before asking Jesus to turn your life around, what kind of music did you do?
Mostly pop, dance and R&B
Most of your lyrics are very deep and full of God’s love, how do songs come to you? How do you capture your thoughts?
Thank you very much! 🙂 The songs I write are an out-working of what I experience in daily life. Kind of like a journal. I just try to be honest. God is massively at work in our lives. Just telling our story paints a picture of that.
I really like that. Philippa, this is a little tricky but I am going to ask you, “which is the most favourite song you ever sang or wrote?”
I really can’t answer that! They’re like children. They’re all different. But songs like Lighthouse & New For Old are great songs to bridge a faith and mainstream gap. I like to try and present the gospel in a fresh way. So new people can relate.
I’d imagine, as they all are truly different. I do particularly like ‘Lighthouse’, its one of my favourites. Who do you consider your strongest influences in music?
Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters, Alanis Morrissette, Whitney Houston, The Police and Prince.
If you had the chance to speak to the entire world, what will be your message to them? What would be your testimony? What would you tell them about God?
He’s real. There’s an amazing spiritual realm that we don’t see with our eyes/ but once you know it’s there’s everything makes more sense. Jesus Christ is not just a Historical figure. He was a manifestation of God in human form-(a son of the creator). He died on a cross and rose from the dead, defeated death making it possible for us to know true life. Man has drifted away from the Truth. The truth about life and existence. Jesus reveals it. Everything becomes clear and beautiful in Him. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Ask God to reveal Himself to you Through Jesus. You’ll see for yourself.
Everything really does become clear and beautiful in Him. That’s so true. Would you tell us about your charity work and what projects you are currently working on?
I founded the Raggedy doll foundation a couple of years back. We are a Rag-doll making community that stitch dolls to give away along with a message of self-worth. We focus primarily on building self-esteem in children. I’m also an ambassador for Chad sponsorship organization Compassion.
Wow! Fantastic! May God reward your labour of Love. Your schedule for the year seems really busy, it’s amazing! How do you spend your typical day? Do you find time to rest?
If I’m at home: Get up. Drink tea. Put out the dog and feed him. Shower, pray, put make-up on. Answer emails and messages, go to the office and do meetings, fundraising, mentoring sessions, design merchandise, plan events and tours, do press etc. Come home, do house stuff, watch TV, eat, sleep, repeat. If I’m on tour. Wake up, eat, travel play, meet people, travel, sleep, repeat. It’s a lot simpler.
Do you have any regrets?
Not really. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes. But I’ve learned more from mistakes than successes. So I don’t regret them.
What challenges have you encountered on your journey?
It’s hard when people don’t get your vision. But it’s more important to please God than man. Do what you feel called to. Man will catch up.
Thank you for that. Please God! Man will catch up. What are your most memorable moments?
Touring with Lionel Richie. Playing main stage at Big Church Day out, hearing Lighthouse on BBC Radio 2, getting amazing letters from people who have found my songs helpful.
You will be on several concerts and cities this year, and for the first time this you will be in Aberdeen ministering at ENGAGE in August, what are your expectations?
I’m praying for people to hear from God! Whether through my songs or the other ministries at the event.
I say Amen to that! Any advice for aspiring artists and musicians
Be yourself. Work hard on your musical skills. Always tell yourself ‘I’ll do better next time.’ When you have a tough performance experience. Keep your eyes on Jesus and take each day as it comes.
Thank You. Finally tell us 5 things about yourself
I love animals
I cry at talent shows
I love spicy food
If I wasn’t a singer I’d be a fiction novelist or a councillor
I had a phobia of apples for a while. Over it now!
Awww you cry at talent shows lol. Thank you so much Philippa for sharing with us on iTestify blog. We indeed appreciate you. See you in August