Class of 2020: Hanorah Revels in the Healing Power of Song

Photo: Monse Muro

BY Matt BauerPublished Jan 6, 2020

A prophet by the name of George Clinton once said, "Funk not only moves, it can remove." That's a dictum that emerging Montreal soul queen Hanorah has been living by, immersing herself in the healing and empowering grooves of funk and soul in the face of post traumatic stress disorder, following a sexual assault. Her musical message of resiliency and hope is part of Exclaim!'s Class of 2020 concert series at Montreal's Bar le Ritz on Friday, January 10.
"In the beginning, when you're really close to a traumatic event like that, it's sort of hard to have clarity," Hanorah tells Exclaim! "A lot of the stuff I was writing was a lot darker — there was anger and a lot of bitterness. In time, I just became so grateful for having come as far as I have, and having changed at all. There was a time, particularly shortly after the assault, the prospect of me leaving my house and talking to people, was just no. So to come to a point that I could talk to people and go to shows and book shows, I was really proud of that. That made me feel a lot more confident in myself, and think that I could do more with my life than just being this angry victim. And that's not what I want to be, so that gratitude really changed things and how I write — a lot more hope in the lyrics, redemption and just thinking a lot more to the future and trying to help other people."
An invigorating display of Hanorah's personal and musical growth, 2019's For the Good Guys and Bad Guys EP is her first recording with a full band, and she says that the instrumentation gave her greater freedom, both lyrically and vocally.
"With a band, I was able to tap into a sound and voice that was deep within me. I grew up listening to Motown and funk and blues and jazz. The first few gigs were in a dive bar with a terrible sound system; I couldn't hear myself singing, I had to push a little bit to be heard over the band and that's kind of a little happy accident when I found a deeper vocal power. That was a good backdrop to have that soulful sound through these lyrics. So much of that music talks about love songs, but at that same time, funk music has a background of political messages, too."
Hanorah feels that the intimacy of Bar le Ritz is ideal for her musical message.
"When you're on a stage, no one comes up and rips the mic out of your hand. You're up there, you're singing your truth and trying to leave a piece of yourself out there for people to walk home with, and that's absolutely empowering. It's the opposite of shame and silence, and I think that's why I keep doing it.
"I think a lot of these songs belong in a live setting. This might sound hokey, but it does feel spiritual to perform these things and go deep inside myself and try to pull out something that's genuine and honest for people. I just hope that I can let these lyrics ring true in the setting of a live show. Things can be really powerful in person, so that's usually the feedback that I get."
The next instalment of Exclaim!'s Class of 2020 concert series, co-presented by Collective Arts, takes place at Montreal's Bar le Ritz on Friday January 10 with Hanorah, Sorry Girls, Sasha Cay, Dish Pit and Petra Glynt.

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