His lyrics connect and inspire. With social distancing measures well under way, uLethbridge alumnus and local musician John Wort Hannam (BA/BEd ’96) is sharing songs from home as part of his ‘COVID-19 sessions.’
Over the last few weeks, everyone’s reality has shifted drastically. How are you handling this new normal?
Spending the past 20 years as a touring musician has partly prepared me for this new reality. I really live my life in two seasons – on and off the road. Musicians tour for weeks at a time then we are home, going nowhere for equal amounts of time. I also think artists are used to spending long hours in self-isolation – both in our houses and inside our own heads. It’s during this time we collect the ideas for our art, gathering our experiences, thoughts and feelings into the fodder that becomes future projects. Like so many others, what has shifted drastically is my means of making a living. I’ve certainly felt the pinch of lost income from cancelled shows and a planned recording in May is now out of the question. However, I know that there are others with much bigger problems than mine and for that I count myself lucky to be honest.
What inspired you to start posting songs as part of your ‘COVID-19 sessions’?
I’ve always appreciated those who have supported me over the years by coming to shows and purchasing music. The listeners can’t come to live music right now so it’s our turn as musicians to pay back and bring the music to the listeners.
You’re known for telling a story through your music. In your opinion, how does music unite us, especially in times like?
Music brings us closer when it expresses a universal message. That’s what makes a good song in my opinion. It’s not a necessity that we have experienced identical things to find a common thread. I may not have experienced joy or pain in my life for the same reasons as someone else but I know first hand what those emotions feel like and can certainly relate to others who also have experienced them. Our current situation is a unique one because we are all feeling more connected by being more isolated. I have checked in with more people in the last two weeks than I have all year. It always bugs me when people say this but I’m gonna say it – there’s gotta be a song in there somewhere.
Have you learned/are you planning to learn any interesting skills during this time of social distancing?
For years I’ve been threatening my family with the clawhammer banjo that hangs in my office. I haven’t picked it up yet but I figure it’s my secret weapon if we start getting under each other’s feet around this house – I’ll pull the banjo off the wall and guaranteed, everyone will run for the hills.
Check out John's song “Other Side of the Curve” below.
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