The power of language is immeasurable. It guides our thoughts, perceptions and emotions. Its precious instrument is the voice, through whose power and vocal intensity it comes to full fruition. Combining these aspects is a high art that few can accomplish.
Victoria Hanna is truly a phenomenon. The Israeli artist has set herself the aim of creating an integral artwork of language, voice and music. And she has achieved that to a most astonishing degree. Victoria Hanna moves between ancient music and contemporary beats, between philosophical and religious texts. Her compositions are shaped by diverse vocal techniques, both sung and spoken. She explores the boundaries of the human voice, plays with letters, recites the Aleph-Bet – in captivating leaps and bounds.
August 2018 is the international release date for Victoria Hanna’s debut album with Greedy for Best Music. It features ten of her own original songs, tracing an arc from pop to hip-hip to Israeli music, exquisitely combining the ancient, the traditional and the modern. In her songs and compelling videos, her image and design, Hanna creates a unique and distinctive world that is entirely her own.
Having grown up in a strictly orthodox tradition, Victoria Hanna has liberated herself from the confines of that orthodoxy while at the same time preserving and continuing its cultural heritage, which she has translated into an idiosyncratic and thoroughly contemporary context. She has stuttered since childhood. This inborn speech disability was actually her greatest gift, and what led her to explore the boundaries of sound and diction. She embarked on an inner journey to explore the mouth as creator, which became the inspirational and emotional journey of her life.
Victoria Hanna studied acting, went to the theatre, played in various films (such as Next To Her by Asaf Korman) and learned a variety of song traditions. She has performed at festivals worldwide and caused a sensation in New York.
In an increasingly pigeon-holed world, a new category has to be opened up for her. Media reviews have described her style as Aramaic hip-hop and Kabbalistic rap. According to radio magazine PRI – The World: “Victoria Hanna is the freshest, edgiest, weirdest artist on the Israeli airwaves today. How did she reach that status? By singing — the alphabet!” (npr music)
The liberal New-York based magazine Forward even urged its readers to fall in love: “In ‘22 Letters’ — as in the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which are showcased in beautiful calligraphy through-out the video — Victoria Hanna breathes light and life into the Hebrew language, with the help of Hebrew texts and catchy beats. Watch this video to fall in love with Hebrew letters, Jewish mysticism, and well, with Victoria Hanna.”
The Album – Victoria Hanna in her own wordsMy debut album consists entirely of ancient Hebrew texts with which I grew up. It is divided into two sections, two worlds that I explore – voice and speech. Voice is abstract, free in space. Speech is concrete, conceptual and rhythmic.
Victoria and Hanna are my two grandmothers, after whom I am named. They were both married as girls, against their will. Victoria – rebelled, stood up for herself, had a courageous heart and was revolutionary for me. Hanna – was withdrawn, served, surrendered and was my home and my heart. Part 1: Victoria – focusses on the power of speech and breaking it down into its component letters. This part of the album is rhythmic, danceable, for the night hours and is produced by Tamir Muskat (Balkan Beat Box). Part 2: Hanna – focusses on the voice that breaks through, the voice that calls. This part is melodic, music for the wee-hours. It was produced by sound artist Frank van der Weij.”
The video of her first single went viral on YouTube: Aleph Bet (Hoshana) is a rapping prayer for rain, partly made up of the poetical Hoshanot prayers in alphabetic acrostic. In the video, Victoria embodies both teacher and pupil – two bodies that dwell deeply within her own self. She deploys themes from the Hoshana ritual, according to rabbinical teaching, using her hands to express the turbulence of the four winds and the beating of willow springs on the ground. The video was directed by Asaf Korman, in whose 2014 film Next to Her, premiered at Cannes, she had also played a role. In the video of her second single 22 Letters she returns once more to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The Performance From Aramaic hip-hop to wild and rhythmic raps on ancient Hebrew texts – describing her as a singer does not even come close to encompassing the sheer breadth of her vocal techiques, whether spoken or sung. On stage, Victoria Hanna is a cosmopolitan, multi-faceted artist. She chews letters, swallows syllables, pummels words and letters, stretching and kneading them, spitting them out, screaming them aloud, singing them. She plays with Hebrew letters, recites the Aleph-Bet. She leaps, captivates, enchants. She is tempestuous, vulnerable, beautiful, sensual, shy, childlike, calm, helpless, seductive, playful, womanly – all in one. She incorporates endless different Victorias and Hannas. In her live performances, Victoria Hanna is accompanied by electric oud, accordion, percussion, keyboard and saxophone. She also performs solo and in a duo as well as holding workshops and giving talks.