“I remember that even back in elementary school I was a little ahead of my friends,” explains drummer, band leader and solo artist Hannah Ford. “That’s because I’ve known what I wanted to do ever since I was seven.”
Hannah Ford isn’t the least bit embarrassed about admitting that she found true love at the tender age of seven. She even remembers when and where she was smitten. It happened the day she was introduced to the drums in her third grade music class. According to her, it was love at first sight. Since then she has pursued her passion with a passion— studying, practicing and performing like an Olympic athlete in training, piling up awards and accolades and taking on the responsibilities of a professional career while still a student of the art.
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Hannah’s third-grade music class was the precursor of “Fabulous Leopard Percussionists of Louisville” and, as a member of the renowned group, the youngster had the privilege of working with some of the world’s greatest drummers and teachers, including Diane Downs, Louie Bellson, Ruben Alvarez, Jerry Steinholtz and Ndugu Chancler. After moving to Chicago when she was 12, Hannah took advantage of new opportunities to study and perform with mentors such as Paul Wertico, Peter Erskine, Stanton Moore, Danny Seraphine and Johnny Rabb.
“I confess that when I was younger I wanted to be famous,” Hannah admits. “What kid doesn’t? But the more I was able to be around and observe these great musicians the more I learned and the more I realized that, in the long run, becoming a good musician is a much more appropriate and fulfilling goal.”
In 2008, following high school, Hannah accepted a scholarship to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. She credits college with helping to expand her knowledge of music and allowing her to become a better, more versatile musician. Her assessment must be accurate because, in addition to playing in the school orchestral, percussion and Jazz ensembles, she’s also been picking up work with major touring musicians like Ignacio Berroa, Wynton Marsalis, Butch Miles, Jeff Berlin and others. And, along with her schoolwork and a calendar full of live and studio sessions for top pro’s as well as her own projects, “Pandorum” and “The Hannah Ford Band” and its upcoming debut CD, Happier With Me, Hannah also manages to find time to do a bit of writing and teaching, herself.
Another expression of her love for the drums has been Hannah’s enthusiastic support for drummers. Hannah spends much of her down-time reaching out to her peers at school assemblies with her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and giving back to young musicians at drum clinics and summer music camps. This generosity as well as her many other accomplishments has caught the attention of the drum industry and led to sponsorships and endorsements from some of the biggest companies in the business, including Zildjian, Gretsch, Toca, Vater and Evans.
Now halfway through college and on the edge of adulthood, Hannah’s early success has given rise to great expectations. Of course, it’s only natural to expect great things after the access and advantages that Hannah Ford has had. But the extra weight has never been a burden and Hannah doesn’t disappoint. In fact, the young woman continues to exceed expectations and is well on the way to becoming the serious musician and positive role model that’s provided the twinkle in her eye ever since she was that precocious, drum-struck little girl in the third grade.
“It used to be that telling someone they hit like a girl was a put-down,” says Hannah, “but after watching the way women like Karen Carpenter, Gina Schock, Sheila E and Cindy Blackman play the drums, I’ll take it as a compliment. After all, what’s better than playing kick-ass drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band, doing what you love… and getting paid for it?”
Hannah Ford listens to and enjoys a wide variety of music— jazz, rock, pop, country, R&B, Latin and metal, to name just a few. Her favorite drummers range from legends such as Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Tony Williams, Jo Jones, Art Blakey and John Bonham to contemporary players like Paul Wertico, Peter Erskine, Stanton Moore, Neil Peart, Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta as well as newcomers Chad Smith, John Blackwell and Jason Bittner.