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English singer/songwriter Philippa Hanna is best known for her output in the contemporary Christian genre, and despite growing up in a musical household in Sheffield -- her father Pat Hanna was a touring musician, her brother Stuart Zender was a founding member of the ultra-successful U.K. acid jazz-funk outfit Jamiroquai, and her cousins Richard and Danny McNamara were members of the Brit-pop band Embrace -- her musical career didn't take hold until she began her faith journey in 2004, when she was 20 years old. Consequently, the majority of her lyrics focus on strong Christian themes and issues. Aside from her musical endeavors, Hanna spends a lot of time raising awareness and funding for a number of Christian charities. Her debut album, 2007's Watching Me, drew plaudits for its acoustic grooves and Hanna's talented vocals. Recorded at the well-regarded Steelworks studios in her hometown, and produced by Andy Baker -- who helped break another Sheffield band, the Gentlemen -- Watching Me found itself at the number one spot on the CDBaby CCM charts, and in the Top Three for solo female artists. After writing her first book, More -- an autobiographical account of her finding faith as a young adult -- she returned to the studio, again with Andy Baker producing, for her 2009 follow-up Taste. In a similarly lyrical vein as her debut, Hanna touched upon a range of contemporary issues relevant to her audience of young Christians while retaining a strong groove sensibility. Her first appearance on the BBC's religious television program Songs of Praise in 2011 preceded another visit to the Steelworks studio, this time to record the live EP Out of the Blue. This effort encompassed elements of country, bluegrass, and Americana -- a departure from her previous soul and pop-oriented work. The EP featured several tracks co-written with Eliot Kennedy (Spice Girls, Bryan Adams, S Club 7), and another CCM songwriting heavyweight Chris Eaton. Kickstarter was the source of her third full-length album, Through the Woods, which arrived in 2013. Hanna again drafted Eliot Kennedy's expertise, and the album, which reached number 2 on the Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart, further explored the Americana/country leanings of her previous EP. The lead single, "Lighthouse," received extensive airplay, most notably from BBC Radio 2, and was also featured in her second appearance on Songs of Praise in early 2013. Her fourth album coincided with her relocation to the U.S. Recorded in Nashville, 2016's Speed of Light featured the single "Arrow," and premiered on Richard Madeley's BBC Radio 2 show. A tour supporting Anastacia to promote the album was slated for later in the year. ~ Simon Spreyer
29 March 1984 in Sheffield, England