Lisa Hannigan in Temple Bar, Dublin
|Birth name||Lisa Margaret Hannigan|
12 February 1981 |
Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, musician|
|Instruments||Harmonium, guitar, melodica, banjo, thumb piano, mandolin, bass guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel, percussions|
|Labels||Hoop Records (Ireland) Barp, ATO Records/Play It Again Sam (US & Worldwide), MapleMusic Recordings (Canada)|
|Associated acts||Damien Rice|
Lisa Margaret Hannigan (born 12 February 1981) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician. She began her musical career as a member of Damien Rice's band. Since beginning her solo career in 2007 she has released three albums: Sea Sew (2008), Passenger (2011), and At Swim (2016). Hannigan's music has received award nominations both in Ireland and the USA. Hannigan is also the voice actor for the character Blue Diamond in Steven Universe, an American animated television series created by Rebecca Sugar.
Early life and education
Hannigan was born in Dublin but grew up in Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland. She attended primary school at Scoil Oilibhéir Naofa in Kilcloon and secondary school at The King's Hospital in Palmerstown and enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin to study Art History.
While still in college, Hannigan met Damien Rice at a concert in Dublin in early 2001. Rice enlisted Hannigan to sing on his 2002 album O and his later album "9", featured in the hit "9 Crimes". She toured with Rice as part of his band during that period, lending vocal support and occasionally playing electric guitar, bass guitar or drums.
In 2007, Hannigan returned to Dublin and began a solo career. Some of Hannigan's live recordings were made available through trading networks radio shows. These recordings included: "Willy" by Joni Mitchell, "Be My Husband" by Nina Simone (from the 1965 album Pastel Blues), "Mercedes Benz" by Janis Joplin and "Love Hurts" by Roy Orbison. Hannigan also performed live with her own band, called The Daisy Okell Quartet and contributed guest vocals to the recordings of Mic Christopher, The Frames and Herbie Hancock.
Lisa Hannigan's debut solo album, titled Sea Sew, was rehearsed in a barn in Thomastown and recorded in Dublin before being released in Ireland in September 2008. The lead single, "Lille", was made available as a free Internet download and other tracks were available for preview on her Myspace page. The sleeve featured needle-work by Hannigan. Some music critics called the recording one of the best Irish albums of the year.
Sea Sew received favourable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The single "Lille", released in August 2008 on Irish and American radio stations. Hannigan performed at Electric Picnic 2008. Hannigan was the opening act for singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his U.S. tour in 2008.
That year she appeared on the charity album Even Better Than the Disco Thing and performed a duet of Mick Flannery's new song "Christmas Past" with Flannery on Tony Fenton's Christmas Special on Today FM. In December 2008, she made her UK solo debut at St Johns Church in London. Hannigan signed with ATO Records in the U.S., where her album was released in February 2009.
That year, Hannigan appeared on the American television shows Jay Leno and The Colbert Report. In 2009, Hannigan also appeared on the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland, performing her song "I Don't Know". Sea Sew rose in the UK charts following this appearance and she performed at Glastonbury 2009 music festival and went on tour later in the year. She performed at the nomination ceremony and she was greeted by confused journalists wondering "Lisa who?".
Hannigan performed at Electric Picnic 2009 Later in 2009, she toured the United States with David Gray and performed solo shows in New York, Los Angeles and London. She then began a tour of Ireland to finish the year. Hannigan's song "An Ocean and a Rock" was used in a 2009 Irish video supporting same-sex marriage entitled "Sinéad's Hand". As part of an advertisement campaign for Oxfam's Make Trade Fair, Hannigan was drenched in melted chocolate and she participated in the Irish musical collective The Cake Sale with lead vocal on the track Some Surprise, which was played on the US television series Grey's Anatomy.
In 2009, a broadcast of Other Voices was recorded.
"Braille" from the album Sea Sew was also used in the film Ondine in 2009.
Hannigan recorded her second album, Passenger, at Bryn Derwen Studios in North Wales with producer Joe Henry and engineer Ryan Freeland. The album was released in the US and Canada on 20 September 2011, and on 7 October in Ireland and the UK.
Hannigan announced that her third album was produced in collaboration with Aaron Dessner, founding member of American Indie rock band The National. The album entitled At Swim was released on 19 August 2016. On 24 May 2016 Hannigan revealed a short teaser in relation to the album's launch. "Prayer For The Dying" and "Ora" are two tracks which have appeared among promotional material in the lead up to the release. Lisa toured Ireland extensively in the lead up to the album release. "Prayer For The Dying" appeared on digital streaming services in June 2016. The album was positively received by several newspapers, including the Guardian, which awarded it four out of five stars, commenting on Hannigan's "crystal vocals" and the album's "stunningly pretty songs with quietly powerful undertones", and the Evening Standard, which also awarded four out of five stars and mentioned the "new-found accessibility" the album represented. The Telegraph noted the album to be "subtle and gauzy but loaded with emotion", and calls Hannigan's voice "an incredible instrument, drawing on both opera and folk, with a softness and intimacy".
Soundtracks and film work
In 2004 Hannigan credited on soundtrack for "Closer" (song: Cold Water, arranged and performed by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, featuring Vyvienne Long).
In 2007 Hannigan credited on soundtrack for "Shrek the Third" (song: 9 Crimes, performed by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan).
In 2009 Hannigan credited on soundtrack for "Ondine" (songs: Braille, Lille, written and performed by Lisa Hannigan).
In 2013 Hannigan contributed vocals to the soundtrack for Alfonso Cuarón's film Gravity.
In 2014 Hannigan provided vocals along with John Smith for the Steven Price conducted soundtrack for the Brad Pitt blockbuster 'Fury'. On 14 September Lisa performed in the Roundhouse for the iTunes Concert Series.
In 2017, she voiced the character Blue Diamond for the television series Steven Universe.
Her music has received critical praise, airplay and award nominations both in her native Ireland and the United States. In 2008, her debut album Sea Sew spawned the single "Lille", a Choice Music Prize nomination, two Meteor Music Awards nominations and a Mercury Prize nomination.
Hannigan performs using "broken-down, wheezy old instruments". Herbie Hancock said of her vocals, "there's so much jazz in the notes and phrases that she picks. She was singing the ninths, the elevenths of the chords...I mean some of the things sound like choices that Miles would have made." 
Hannigan briefly studied English and Art History at Trinity College in Dublin. During her first week at University she became friends with Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice. Hannigan eventually left University to travel with Rice across Europe with a particular focus on Italy.
Returning to Ireland, both Hannigan and Rice began to work together recording music. Hannigan featured on Rice's first two solo albums and a number of EP's and live recordings. Both Irish artists toured for a number of years together, but in 2007 Hannigan left Damien Rice and his band following a live show in Munich. Effectively Rice fired Hannigan from the band.
Returning to Dublin from 2007 onward she began to focus on her solo career which to date has produced three solo albums. In 2015, Hannigan decided to move from Dublin to London to begin a new life and to begin writing new material for her third studio album At Swim. She also began a part-time degree in English literature.
Hot Press Readers' Poll
|2009||Sea Sew||Best Debut Album||Won|
|2009||Sea Sew||Best Irish Album||Won|
|2009||—||Best Irish Track||Won|
|2009||Lisa Hannigan||Best Female||Won|
Choice Music Prize
Hannigan's second album, Passenger, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2012 and she also lost out to Jape that year.
|2009||Sea Sew||Irish Album of the Year 2008||Nominated|
|2012||Passenger||Irish Album of the Year 2011||Nominated|
Meteor Music Awards
Hannigan and her work was nominated in the Best Irish Female and Best Irish Album categories at the Meteor Music Awards in 2009. She was the only solo artist nominated in more than one category at the awards. She lost to Imelda May and The Script's self-titled album respectively.
|2009||Sea Sew||Best Irish Album||Nominated|
|2009||Lisa Hannigan||Best Irish Female||Nominated|
Hannigan was referred to as 2009's "token folk nominee" in the UK, with the NME calling her a "token folkie". One British journalist even claimed she was "truly obscure" and part of the "moribund sensitive singer-songwriter genre". Ed Power, writing in the Irish Independent, criticised such claims, wondering if Jape (whose album Ritual beat Hannigan to the Choice Music Prize) had come close to receiving a Mercury nomination—"Or, for that matter, how many of the judges had even heard of him".
|2009||Sea Sew||Best Album||Nominated|
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'It’s been hell for me as they told me a few days ago because they wanted to me to perform at the nomination ceremony today [Tuesday], so I couldn’t tell anyone in case they took it away from me,' says the 29-year-old from Co Meath. There were cries of 'Lisa who?' from the assembled British media throng – Hannigan was a surprise nomination".
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As well as the evening concerts in the 200-year-old St James’s church, which has a capacity (approximately 80) that is far less than the frantic demand for tickets, one of the add-ons of the series is the filming of “sessions” in unusual locations. So far, these have included BellX1’s Paul Noonan dueting with rising Irish singer, Lisa Hannigan, in Dún Chaoin (in a cottage owned by artist Marie Simmons Gooding), American band The Antlers performing in the locality’s Celtic prehistoric museum, and Irish band Villagers in Dingle’s cosy Goat Street Café.
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