Interview: Steve Brown
Classically trained singer/songwriter Jamie Hannah speaks to Attitude about his sexuality, working with Boy George and receiving compliments from Emma Thompson.
For his single, ‘House of Truth’, the singer teamed up with Boy George after the Culture Club frontman asked him to try some vocals on some of his own tracks.
Not only is George a fan of Jamie’s voice, but acting legend Emma Thompson once described his voice as having an ‘unforgettably smooth tone’ – one of the highest compliments any singer could hope for.
And now, Jamie, who is openly gay, speaks to Attitude about being gay in the music industry and working with the likes of Boy George.
What was your inspiration behind ‘Sound of My Youth?
‘Sound of My Youth’ was inspired by memories of a previous relationship – a first relationship.
Although many years on, those lyrics capture being submerged by the sense of emotion and a loss of a first love – almost suffocating and being unable to breathe as you’re drowning in overwhelming emotion.
Such memories still continue to flood my mind, but I’m in control of them now.
Boy George is a former Attitude cover star, how did you end up working with him on your new single?
Benny D, the producer I was working with at the time, is an old friend of George. Benny sent across a couple of my tracks to him. He was on tour in the states at the time with Culture Club.
George loved my voice and got me to try some vocals out on some of his tracks. We then worked together in the studio on a couple of songs, where we decided to release House of Truth as a duet! George directed and produced the main video for the song as well.
He seems to have nothing but praise for you. That must make you feel amazing to have an openly gay music icon praise you.
I’m very lucky to have George as a mentor. He is incredibly generous with his time and gives advice on all aspects – lyrics, styling, the music business, the secret ingredients for a good salad!
The single has received a lot of praise. How does that make you feel?
It’s exciting! I hope everyone will be running to the House of Truth as soon as they hear it!
The list of celebrities praising your singing abilities goes on and on! Even Emma Thompson said your voice had an ‘unforgettably smooth tone’ such an amazing compliment from someone like her!
Ha you’re making me blush! Emma is so fabulous. I turned up to her party not long ago in a bright blue denim embossed suit and from across the room I heard her shouting “you pull off patterns better than I do!”
She laughingly complained that I had managed to upstage her at her own party. It’s so nice having her support.
If you could collaborate with any artist whom would you want to work with?
Crickey, the list is endless. Tracy Chapman, Elton John, Clean Bandit, Antony and the Johnsons, Mark Ronson…if Beyoncé or Ariana gave me a ring I definitely wouldn’t say no!
Whilst I was arranging the acoustic version of House of Truth I collaborated with the London Community Gospel Choir, which was phenomenal. Their voices are something else.
You are classically trained. Was this something you always wanted to pursue? How does it affect your voice now?
Music has been an integral part of my upbringing, having sung since I was a baby! When I was 18, I decided I wanted to pursue training as countertenor; and was awarded a place at the Royal College of Music.
Having studied classically it gave me a foundation in many ways – vocal care, support, ornamentation. You’ll no doubt find me humming to one of Handel’s arias before I go on stage!
You identify as gay. What was it like for you to come out?
It was difficult. Keeping a secret like that for such a long time started to jeaprodise other parts of my life. Living in London, I felt as though there was only one idea of a gay man that was acceptable.
This unobtainable perfection, which supposedly we were all striving for. Everyone is different. Everyone’s opinion is subjective. I found my success, creativity and freedom when I chose to be me.
Nowadays, there are dozens of artists who identify as LGBTQ+ releasing music and selling out international tours. Did you ever expect this to happen when you started?
Yeah…I did. Creativity is a space where anyone can be who they want to be.
Lance Bass, from *NSYNC, said recently how the music industry is still homophobic. Have you ever experienced homophobia when trying to get your career started?
Actually, I don’t feel my career to date has been impacted by any homophobia. Pop music for me it is all about harnessing talent and musicianship rather than sexuality.
I know there are still pockets of hyper-masculinity, which impact LGBTQ+ women in some areas of pop such as grime and hip hop for example, but that is changing now as well.
Watch the video to ‘Sound of My Youth’ remix by Ricky Sixx below: