Today, Local Spins spotlights the albums that most influenced Earth Radio singer and keyboardist Hannah Laine. Listen to tracks from all the albums, plus a current favorite.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians can trace their inspiration to key recordings that captivated them and influenced their own music. Writer Ross Boissoneau today showcases the albums and songs that changed the world for Grand Rapids singer and keyboard player Hannah Laine of Earth Radio. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist of her picks, plus a couple of recent Earth Radio tracks.
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Growing up in Rockford, Hannah Laine was bitten by the music bug early on. As a child, she sang and performed with her father Jeff Schroeder, a local educator and musician. She soon got involved in dance and theater, and with both her church praise team and school choirs.
As she became exposed to more and different music, she began exploring varied sounds and genres, inspired by the rhythms and emotion of neo-soul. She released her debut EP, “Cut Your Strings,” in 2017, featuring bassist Justin Avdek. She and Avdek then formed the Grand Rapids-based future-soul group Earth Radio.
She says her lyrics are informed by her personal spiritual growth with a goal of creating music that’s an expression of her soul. Laine will perform a solo show at Grand Rapids’ Listening Room Dec. 10, joined by NIIKA, a singer-songwriter from Chicago. Details, tickets here. Earth Radio, meanwhile, plays Grand Rapids’ Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill on Saturday (Nov. 20) with Tree No Leaves.
1. Eva Cassidy, “Oh Had I A Golden Thread” (1998) – It’s from the compilation album “Songbird.” My voice and piano teacher wanted me to learn it for voice lessons. She hits a high A and belts it. I thought there’s no way I could do that. He said to try, I did and I hit it. The more I practiced, the better it got. It was a pivotal moment. It showed I can do things that I thought were impossible. My voice is so malleable. I’ll try singing whatever.
Listen: “Oh, Had I a Golden Thread”
2. Erykah Badu, “Baduizm” (1997) – I think another one that was real obvious to me was Erykah Badu’s “Baduizm.” I was introduced to it in college. I was just starting to question Christianity. I was involved in a church in college that was very evangelical. It was starting to feel very not right to me. I was starting to see I didn’t need Christianity. Her lyricism spoke to me (like on the track) “Apple Tree”: If you’re not vibing with what I’m putting out, let’s not hang out. Her spirit is her. So I took that with me. Her lyrics have guided me through my artistic process. It’s really inspiring me to find connections with myself and create from my connections to my spirit. It helped me be authentic. It was a huge influence and still is.
Listen: “Rim Shot”
3. Hiatus Kaiyote, “Choose Your Weapon” (2015) – Their songs are so complex. They don’t stick to certain forms – verse, chorus, bridge. It’s really interesting, yet there’s something smooth about it. It’s so cool to me – (thinking) wow, I would never be able to write a song like this. I started hanging out with jazz people, getting more complexity into my music. I’m opening my music to new possibilities. This was shortly after Badu. It was (another) pivotal moment in my life. Both entered my life at a time I was open to really hearing … the lyrics and the message. Nai Palm, the singer-guitarist of Hiatus Kaiyote, writes very poetically. It inspired me to embrace poetic (writing), rather than storytelling.
Listen: “Choose Your Weapon”
Currently Loving: Moses Sumney, “Græ” (2020) – He’s a recent influence. The music is so beautiful and haunting. I found it through Spotify. If I find an artist I like, I listen to related artists. Hiatus Kaiyote’s new album is also wonderful.
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Hannah Laine’s Playlist on Spotify
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