Rock and Talk

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Denielle Hann's career
path takes many turns

Theres a new voice on the airwaves, over at Coast 101.1 FM and one less back at VOCM.

Its also a voice you will hear warbling in Blue Eyed Blonde arguably the provinces most popular cover band and one that will soon be heard on a debut solo release.

It belongs, as youve probably guessed, to Denielle Hann.

If you listen to VOCM Open Line, you will remember Hann. She worked as a producer with that program, supporting host Randy Simms, until leaving the position close to a month ago. After a two-week vacation down south, Hann has resurfaced at Coast FM, where she is filling in during host Kerri Hodders maternity leave.

We're excited to have Deneille onboard, said Andy Newman, of Coast FM. She brings a great energy and work ethic along with a willingness to learn. Talent is something you're born with... bringing that talent out is what's taught, and we all agree that she will flourish on Coast.

Hann will be working the all important mid-day shift, Newman said. Its one of the highest rated shows in the market. She will be responsible for interacting with our audience and clients, and executing our programming philosophy.

Hann was raised in Dunville, in a musical family. I was always listening to music, she said, in an interview. My dad plays and I guess thats where I got it from. I watched him play guitar and knew how much I loved it. Growing up around the bay, everything comes back to the kitchen parties. There was always music around. My family loved music.

Strangely enough, Hann shied away from the spotlight in her earlier years. I didnt like being the centre of attention at all. For that reason, I was mainly into team sports, where I could just be part of a group.

However, Hann did have musical performance in her blood, and began appearing sporadically at open mic sessions to sharpen her skills and build confidence. She first came to public attention in 2002 through her high-profile role as vocalist with Blue Eyed Blonde, around the same time she graduated from Memorial University with a Science Degree in Psychology.

Blye Eyed Blonde quickly earned local renown for lively stage shows and dance-oriented songlist, and, though theyve reduced the frequency of their appearances, the band is still together.

Were a tight family and we see each other outside of the band too, Hann said. Blue Eyed Blonde has grown to a point of becoming a really good family where the personalities in the band really gel. Everyones got the same motivation and everyone knows where the band wants to be. Its seriously become a second family for me.

These days, the group is content with being a cover band and playing occasional gigs. We do it because we love it, and thats what keeps it fresh. We dont play ourselves out anymore Its the love of music that brings us together.

Hann is also recording a solo album, with producers Craig Young and Rick Hollett, that will see her moving in a country direction.

Craig Young is a Newfoundlander who went away, and played with Terry Clarks band for six years. He has lived in Nashville so hes really what Ive been looking for, because my album is going to have a country-folk sound to it, and hes really got the experience Im looking for He knows what an album NEEDS to be country.

Blue Eyed Blonde can rock pretty hard, and Hann admits some people are surprised by her country leanings. I listen to everything. I like the rock too, but I love country. As a songwriter I tend to go more country and more folk, so thats where my album is going. As a performer I like to touch on everything, but as a songwriter I tend to go toward country.

Hanns exposure to media began with the K-ROCK road shows, a summer gig in which on-air personalities drive all over the province and broadcast live from various locales and events, whilst giving out prizes. Her work ethic and skills were quickly noticed by the higher ups and earlier this year, Hann was promoted to the producers chair of VOCM Open Line, where she worked with Randy Simms.

Simms is a bit of powerhouse on the air, so one of my first questions was: Whats it like working with him?

I loved him! Hann said. He was so wonderful. He was a real genuine man. He was very respectful of me. Randy is incredible to work for, and a very intelligent man. There are times when he says things that cause people to raise their eyebrows, but thats part of his job. I remember there was one caller who called me his secretary, and Randy stopped him immediately and said, No, no, no shes not a secretary, shes a producer.

And there is big difference producing talk radio requires a diverse skill set.

A producer has to line up the commercials, has to communicate with the newsroom, has to talk down the callers, has to make a theme for the show. There were nights I had to be on the phone late in the evening, with people from Vancouver, from Ottawa, and other places, to set up the show for the next day. I cared. I really did. I didnt just go in and press buttons. There were times I had to talk callers down, from really being upset to a point to getting them on the air because I thought their story was important. Open Line allowed me to show the technical side of Denielle I think thats why I was really disappointed when I had to come off that show. I thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed producing for Randy. It was my favourite part of the job.

Hann said she left the show when it became clear that her career plans were not aligned with what VOCM had in mind for her.

I went from doing the road show to on-air to producer and was pretty much told I was going to be kept at that, Hann said. This summer came around and they put me back on road show, and took me off Open Line. That is not where I really wanted to go. It felt like a step back for me And I loved Open Line. I felt I was really excelling at it But they wanted me in the public for sure. We tried to work things out the last couple of months and we could not find that comfort zone. The goals they had for me did not line up with the goals I wanted.

When it was clear that their differences could not be surmounted, Hann submitted her resignation, with two weeks notice. However, as occasionally happens in these situations, VOCM let her go immediately. Being unable to say goodbye to her listeners and co-workers was her one big regret about leaving so suddenly, Hann said, adding that she is genuinely appreciative of and thankful for her time with VOCM.

And now, she has landed at Coast FM.

I want to stay in the media, for sure, she said. I was always thinking about how to get my songs on the radio, but now that Ive worked on radio, I absolutely love this industry and want to stay in it. Ive got the want and desire to continue to grow in this industry. Ive been in it for a year and Ive got so much left to learn. I love it and Im passionate about it.

We have encouraged Denielle to continue her musical passions, both performing and mentoring (young musicians), said Andy Newman. This is such a large part of her persona and it's critical in developing her as a winning personality.

So work will continue on recording the solo album, of which four tracks are complete. Hann is aware this release could put her on an entirely new career track. I asked Hann if shes willing to pursue music on a full-time basis, if success comes calling.

Yes I would. I like the songwriting aspect too... Blue Eyed Blonde allows me to be the front woman and get that entertainment side out. My album is going to be a work of songs that really means something to me and the people around me Its really my musical experiences, my poetry, that sort of thing. I can be a full time songwriter. I would love that. That would be an ultimate dream.

Hann knows a thing or two about dreams. She keeps an itemized list of life goals, and has already made a good dent in it.

Im a person who makes a list of things to do, and I stick to that list, she said. An ultimate dream is to play on the Grand Ol Opry stage. I want to play there at least once. The Arts and Culture Centre stage was on there and Mile One was on there, and I got to scratch off those two in the last year. The Grand Ol Opry is all thats left, so Im very excited.

Hann describes herself as an optimist and a positive thinker, who thinks there are no limits to what can be accomplished with the right attitude and motivation.

Im a big believer in the power of the mind. Im a very strong believer that if youre not comfortable or unhappy, you have the power to change it. A lot of people might look at me and say, Youve done so many different things. Your path is never straight its all over the place. But I feel very proud of where Ive come from and what Ive done and everything to me points in the same direction, and thats me getting out there in public and tying to make a difference. Because I feel like my goal is to make people smile that is my purpose in life.

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Recent comments

  • George
    July 27, 2010 - 14:54

    Gee, I wondered what happened to her! Missed her bouncy voice on Open Line when she did call me or I called her. Good luck to her in her new endeavour!