During the current COVID-19 pandemic, University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna and former “The Voice” contestant Hannah Huston finds herself desiring to share her voice with her hometown once again.
As part of the Lied Live Online concert series, Huston will have her wish granted when she performs Friday at 7:30 p.m. via Facebook Live. She will be singing a few originals and covers while accompanied by a guitarist. Huston said she hopes to connect with those who tune in afterwards to respond to questions and comments left during the performance.
When Huston was a child, she said she knew she wanted to be a singer or performer, but it would be many years before her dreams would become a reality.
After submitting a video of herself singing to a songwriting contest, Huston’s debut song, “I Alone Have Loved You,” ended up in the top 100 entries. Shortly after, Huston received an unexpected email after a casting agent for “The Voice,” an American singing competition television series, found her video and asked her to audition for the show in Omaha.
Prior to being on “The Voice,” Huston rarely sang by herself.
“‘The Voice’ was a really good launching pad for me. It all just happened so suddenly, and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to do it because I didn’t feel ready,” Huston said.
Huston sang in the 10th Season of “The Voice,” and finished second runner-up with singer Pharrell Williams as her coach. Since her time on the show, Huston has continued to write original songs with co-writers and producers, performing those as well as cover songs at shows around Nebraska.
“Every time I walk into a songwriting session, I’m sharing my life or sharing things around me,” Huston said. “It doesn’t always have to be a story about your life, it could be just a story in general. It can be fiction, it can be true.”
In April, Huston released her latest single, “Something to Believe In,” which she began working on last fall, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Huston said the song is about finding special relationships in life when people are genuine and true-blue.
“I have those friends in my life who are going to be honest and thoughtful and are going to have my back essentially,” Huston said. “There’s just a really meaningful part of life where [you find] friends and community around you that’s just going to be there for you.”
Huston said she and her team decided to release the single earlier than expected as the pandemic continued to spread.
“I just felt that we needed some positivity. Not to take away from reality, because it is a serious time,” Huston said. “We just felt like it needed to be out in the world. Even now, I feel like it’s a great message.”
When Huston released the song, she shared a picture of her and her grandpa on social media along with other personal photos. Huston said she only knew her grandpas for a short amount of time, but their character and personality have lingered with her. She also shared a picture of her parents and her wedding photo from earlier this year. Huston said she’s very close with her family and they mean a lot to her.
“My husband has seen me basically quit teaching and start singing. He’s been there for a lot of very not fun times,” Huston said. “And that’s kind of what this song’s about, those people are going to stick by you.”
Although Huston didn’t change the song to fit with the current events, she finds that it still shows the same message now as when they originally wrote it.
“I hoped it would bring people hope and something to dance to,” Huston said. “I just hope people have been able to kind of break out of their sadness for a little bit and remember happier times or look forward to happier times. I think you can be in the coolest place in the world, but if you don’t have your friends by you, it’s just not as special.”
In a world of uncertainty, Huston said she’s been able to take time from a busy schedule full of projects and traveling to look back at herself to understand why she sings.
“In a positive way, I feel like the [pandemic] has caused me to take a step back, take a look at the bigger picture, to evaluate what’s important to me, and I’ve felt like it’s kind of simplified my life,” Huston said.
The video the casting agent found is the only video Huston said she could recall singing to solely a camera. Since then, Huston said she’s never played a streamed concert without a live audience.
“When you’re performing in front of people, you can really feel the emotion and the energy in the room, so this will definitely be different,” Huston said. “I think there’s a lot of grace I need to give myself where I don’t have a microphone, and I don’t have a sound system to kind of hear myself better. But this isn’t really a time to be worrying about that, and [I] just [need to] embrace the moment and hopefully bring some joy to homes around Lincoln and wherever else people are tuning in from.”
Huston said it’ll be good for people to sing again, and she is excited to perform some songs that people will know and sing along to.
“We’re in such a difficult time, and I think music, for me at least, is a really powerful thing,” Huston said. “I think singing and playing music is healing for me, and I hope it is for other people.”