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Lisa Hannigan

Lisa Hannigan
Lisa Hannigan in Temple Bar, Dublin
Background information
Birth name Lisa Margaret Hannigan[1]
Born (1981-02-12) 12 February 1981
Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland
Genres Indie folk
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, musician
Instruments Harmonium, guitar, melodica, banjo, thumb piano, mandolin, bass guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel, percussions
Years active 2001-present
Labels Barp, ATO Records/Play It Again Sam, MapleMusic Recordings (Canada)
Associated acts Damien Rice[2][3]
Website .ielisahannigan

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 two albums: Sea Sew (2008) and Passenger (2011). Hannigan's music has received award nominations both in Ireland and the USA.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Sea Sew 2.1
    • Passenger 2.2
    • Soundtracks and film work 2.3
  • Reception 3
  • Discography 4
  • Awards 5
    • Hot Press Readers' Poll 5.1
    • Choice Music Prize 5.2
    • Meteor Music Awards 5.3
    • Mercury Prize 5.4
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Hannigan was born in Dublin but grew up in Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland.[4] She attended primary school at Scoil Oilibhéir Naofa[5] in Kilcloon and secondary school at The King's Hospital in Palmerstown and enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin to study Art History.[6]


While still in college, Hannigan met Damien Rice at a concert in Dublin in early 2001.[7][8] 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,[7][9] lending vocal support and occasionally playing electric guitar, bass guitar or drums.[7]

In 2007, Hannigan returned to Dublin and began a solo career.[8][9][3][4][10] 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.

Sea Sew

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.[11] The lead single, "Lille", was made available as a free Internet download and other tracks were available for preview on her Myspace page.[12] The sleeve featured needle-work by Hannigan.[13][14] Some music critics called the recording one of the best Irish albums of the year.[15][16]

Sea Sew received favourable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.[4][17] The single "Lille", released in August 2008 on Irish and American radio stations.[3] Hannigan performed at Electric Picnic 2008.[18] Hannigan was the opening act for singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his U.S. tour in 2008.[19]

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.[2][20] In December 2008, she made her UK solo debut at St Johns Church in London.[21] Hannigan signed with ATO Records in the U.S., where her album was released in February 2009.[22]

Sea Sew was nominated for the Choice Music Prize and Best Irish Album at the Meteor Music Awards in January 2009.[23][24][25]

That year, Hannigan appeared on the American television shows Jay Leno and The Colbert Report.[4][9][26] In 2009, Hannigan also appeared on the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland, performing her song "I Don't Know".[9][27][28] 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.[21][28][29][30] She performed at the nomination ceremony and she was greeted by confused journalists wondering "Lisa who?".[11]

Hannigan performed at Electric Picnic 2009[4][31][32] Later in 2009, she toured the United States with David Gray and performed solo shows in New York, Los Angeles and London.[33] She then began a tour of Ireland to finish the year.[33] Hannigan's song "An Ocean and a Rock" was used in a 2009 Irish video supporting same-sex marriage entitled "Sinéad's Hand".[34] 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.[7][35][36][37]

Hannigan also contributed to the 2009 charity album, Sparks n' Mind, released in aid of Aware.[38]

In 2009, a broadcast of Other Voices was recorded.[39]

"Braille" from the album Sea Sew was also used in the film Ondine in 2009.


Hannigan recorded her second album, titled 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.[40][41]

Hannigan performed at the Eurosonic Festival in 2012 when Ireland was the "Spotlight Country".[42]

Soundtracks and film work

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 September 14, Lisa performed in the Roundhouse for the iTunes Concert Series.[43]

In 2014 she voiced the character of Bronagh, the Selkie mother of the main characters in the animated film Song of the Sea, she also provided several songs to the film's soundtrack.


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".[9] 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." [44]


  • Sea Sew (2008)
  • Passenger (2011)


Hot Press Readers' Poll

Hannigan has four Hot Press Readers' Poll awards. She won Best Debut Album, Best Irish Album, Best Irish Track and Best Female in 2009.[21]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
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 debut album, Sea Sew, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2009.[45]

Hannigan's second album, Passenger, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2012 and she also lost out to Jape that year.[46]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
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.[47] 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.[48]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Best Irish Album Nominated
2009 Lisa Hannigan Best Irish Female Nominated

Mercury Prize

Sea Sew was nominated for the Mercury Prize on 21 July 2009.[49][50][51] It was Hannigan's first nomination.

Hannigan was referred to as 2009's "token folk nominee" in the UK,[35] with the NME calling her a "token folkie".[52] One British journalist even claimed she was "truly obscure" and part of the "moribund sensitive singer-songwriter genre".[35] 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".[35]

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Best Album Nominated


  1. ^ "The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: Lisa Margaret Hannigan: Pistachio writing credits". ASCAP. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Lisa's Duet with Mick Flannery". Official site of Lisa Hannigan. 9 December 2008. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Ed Power (15 December 2008). "Lisa musters the chutzpah to go solo in spotlight".  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Hannigan shenanigans". The Irish Times. 2 May 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  5. ^ News at Scoil Oilibhéir Naofa web site
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d "Lisa Hannigan".  
  8. ^ a b "Rice & Hannigan no longer working together".  
  9. ^ a b c d e Matthew Magee (8 May 2009). "'"Lisa Hannigan interview for her album 'See Sew. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Nick Duerden (19 June 2005). "Damien Rice: The world's most reluctant pop star". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Champagne moment". The Irish Times. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009. '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". 
  12. ^ "Lisa Hannigan heads out on US tour, confirms album date".  
  13. ^ "Lisa Hannigan confirms album track-list".  
  14. ^ "WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Hannigan Irish tour of small towns announced".  
  15. ^ "He came, he busked, he conquered... How Hansard wooed Hollywood".  
  16. ^ "2008 This year in music".  
  17. ^ John Meagher (21 November 2008). "Loaded: 21/11/08".  
  18. ^ "Electric Picnic line-up announced".  
  19. ^ "Music: Jason Mraz * *".  
  20. ^ John Meagher (12 December 2008). "Loaded: 12/12/2008".  
  21. ^ a b c "Lisa Hannigan's DEBUT Album 'Sea Sew' Shortlisted For Barclaycard Mercury Prize". Top40-Charts. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  22. ^ "We just wanted to let you know that the US release date has been postponed until February 3rd". Official site of Lisa Hannigan. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2009. 
  23. ^ Neil Dunphy and Una Mullally (18 January 2009). "The Choicest cuts ...or are they?".  
  24. ^ "Meteor Awards 2009 – Presenter & Nominees Revealed".  
  25. ^ "Meteor Music Awards nominees revealed".  
  26. ^ Schlansky, Evan (10 March 2009). "Lisa Hannigan Gets the Colbert Bump". American Songwriter. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  27. ^ "Lisa Hannigan". BBC. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2009. 
  28. ^ a b "Lisa Hannigan moves up the UK charts".  
  29. ^ "Irish bands tuning up for Glastonbury". The Irish Times. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  30. ^ Foster, Patrick (22 July 2009). "Female solo artists dominate Mercury prize nominations". The Times (London). Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  31. ^ "Nutty boys set for Electric Picnic". The Irish Times. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2009. 
  32. ^ "Electric Picnic bill unveiled".  
  33. ^ a b "Lisa Hannigan announces December dates".  
  34. ^ "Irish gay marriage ad becomes a surprise internet hit: 04/09/09".  
  35. ^ a b c d Ed Power (25 July 2009). "Mercury is rising for our sensitive songbird".  
  36. ^ "Side Projects". Eskimo Friends. Archived from the original on 10 July 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2009. 
  37. ^ "The Cake Sale".  
  38. ^ "Springsteen, Pixies & Portishead covered for Irish charity album".  
  39. ^ RTE Archive and it was pre announced at the time Tony Clayton-Lea (7 December 2009). "Snow Patrol back for novel gathering". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 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. 
  40. ^ "lisa hannigan names new album". wears the trousers. 4 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  41. ^ Passenger" Release & Tour""". 4 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  42. ^ "RTÉ 2fm gearing up for EuroSonic". RTÉ Ten (Raidió Teilifís Éireann). 5 January 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  43. ^ "". Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  44. ^ Documentary film "Herbie Hancock: Possibilities", ©2006 HDNet Films LLC; ©2006 Magnolia Home Entertainment
  45. ^ "Loaded: 16/01/2009".  
  46. ^ "Choice Prize Shortlist Announced".  
  47. ^ "Sharon Shannon to receive major award". The Irish Times. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  48. ^ "Top accolade for The Script". The Irish Times. 17 March 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2009. 
  49. ^ "Hannigan makes Mercury prize shortlist". The Irish Times. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  50. ^ "Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2009: Nominees announced". NME. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  51. ^ "‘Eyes Open’ shortlisted for Choice Music Prize!!!". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  52. ^ Luke Lewis (21 July 2009). "Mercury Nominations – Who's Been Overlooked". NME. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 

External links

  • Official website
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