John Wort Hannam hails from Alberta, where he started out writing narrative story songs and character sketches and carved out a name for himself singing those songs and telling those stories all across Canada and beyond.
He made a couple of albums independently, then a couple with the help and backing of influential and successful producer Steve Dawson, which were released on Steve’s Black Hen Music.
In 2011, John and his wife Jenny welcomed a son, Charlie, and he started writing more personal songs, exposing more of his own feelings and experiences. That’s where he really found his stride as a songwriter and began to create his most meaningful work.
Wanting to record closer to home, he made a couple of albums with Leeroy Stagger, who was my guest on the first episode of Fly with your Shadow.
There are some truly powerful and wonderful songs on all of John’s albums, but a couple from those more recent albums really stand out as ones that I wanted to talk to John about.
One, from his 2015 album, Love Lives On, is a song called “Man of God,” which is inspired by the book Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin, detailing his painful experiences growing up in an “Indian Residential School,” during a dark and disturbing chapter in Canadian history that has caused generations of trauma and hardships for our Indigenous peoples. It’s a difficult history to come to know, but one that needs to be shared and learned about.
His latest release, 2019’s Acres of Elbow Room, came about after a particularly difficult period of dark depression for John which culminated in a physical manifestation of years of undiagnosed and untreated difficulty, when he lost his voice and couldn’t sing. That song is called “Key of D Minor,” and it’s a powerful one that I could relate to directly.
I’m pleased to present this conversation with John Wort Hannam, where we talk about all of that and much more.
In just a couple of weeks, on October 15, John will release a new album, again produced by Steve Dawson, called Long Haul.
You can order John’s albums, as well as a song book, iron on patches, and even John Wort Hannam tea towels, from his website: johnworthannam.com
“Long Haul” is from the album Long Haul, available on CD and LP from Black Hen Music and digitally on Bandcamp
“Man of God” is from the album Love Lives On, available on CD from John Wort Hannam and digitally on iTunes
“Key of D Minor” is from the album Acres Of Elbow Room, available on CD from John Wort Hannam and digitally on iTunes