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Get ready for the Hannah Eggen experience

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Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen gave her resume to Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean when he was here for the Bermuda Music Festival (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Girl, you’re not really going to do it!”

That’s what people said when Hannah Eggen slipped her resume to Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean.

She was working at a spa when the Haitian-American rapper and music producer came in for a treatment.

“He was here during the Bermuda Music Festival,” said the 25-year-old. “I knew he was coming back the next day for another treatment so I got my photo and resume together.”

She’d played the piano since childhood, and learnt to belly dance at 13 after watching Colombian star Shakira on television.

Wyclef seemed amused by her efforts; he slipped her details into his pocket.

Her audacity paid off. A few days later she received a call inviting her to perform with him in New York.

“I was like, ‘Where and when? I’ll be there’,” she said.

Her spa employer wasn’t so impressed.

“He said if I went, there wouldn’t be a job for me when I came back,” she said.

It was an easy choice for the teenager. She walked out.

“I thought I was just going up there for one gig and it would be an interesting experience,” she said. “I had no idea what I was going to do when I came back.”

The performance went so well that she was asked to join the band.

“That was an interesting stage in my life,” she said. “I was 19 and in New York City for the first time. Everyone was pretty humble and welcoming. They really brought me in as a child and helped develop me as a person.”

It was Wyclef who suggested she take up the guitar to expand her skills.

“I started teaching myself,” she said. “He would show me little scales, here and there. I was mainly dancing and then he said, ‘Come in the studio and let’s write’.

“I choreographed for some of his other artists, such as Jarina DeMarco and Angelica Salem, and helped out behind the scenes.”

She travelled with the band around the world — Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Nigeria, Suriname and Haiti were among the many places they performed.

“I was honoured by the President of Haiti and the President of Suriname,” she said. “I also did very well in Poland and picked up some good newspaper clippings.”

The experience was an introduction to all that’s necessary to be a successful performer.

“It is very hard work,” she said. “Wyclef also taught me that what you are doing should never feel unnatural. If it doesn’t feel right than don’t do it at all.

“He taught me that a performer’s job is to make people feel, not to make people feel good or bad, but to make them feel something. It is a hard and masterful job.”

She sang and played the piano when she was younger.

“At age seven, someone told me, ‘You can’t sing, so don’t even try’,” she said. “I was crushed. As a result, I was always very uncomfortable with my voice.

“But everything is a matter of confidence. I am writing my own music and I wanted to sing so I have spent a couple of months in New York with a vocal coach, getting my confidence back.”

A month ago she returned to Bermuda for good, ready to carve her own path.

“It’s time for the Hannah Eggen experience,” she said. “I want to launch my career from Bermuda. I want to have an organic feel. I made a lot of connections during that time and I feel confident I could tour the world on my own steam.”

In the short time she’s been back she’s performed at the Miss Bermuda Pageant and the Aquarium. On Thursday she’ll return to the stage as part of Chewstick’s Emancipation Celebration.

“I will be performing my own song, You Must Believe Me,” she said. “I love to write songs while watching the news. I really feel moved by world events.”

She described her style as a blend of soul, funk, Motown and reggae.

“It is a melting pot of cultures,” she said.

She will be backed by Gianluca Gibbons and his band, HTC.

“We’ll also be doing one of his original pieces, Summertime,” she said. “It has a nice Cup Match feel.”

She is currently working on her first extended play album.

“I don’t know what it will be called yet,” she said. “It is still in the works.”

E-mail Hannahlynneggen@gmail.com or check her out on Twitter @hannah_eggen.

Chewstick’s Emancipation Celebration takes place Thursday in the Number 1 Car Park in Hamilton from 9pm to 2am. Tickets, $60 in advance or $100 for VIP, are available at www.ptix.bm, 27th Century Boutique, AF Smith, Rock Island Coffee and Chewstick. Visit www.chewstick.org

Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen has been honoured by the presidents of Haiti and Suriname (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen has toured the world but is keen to launch her career from Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen describes her style as a blend of soul, funk, Motown and reggae (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Bermudian singer and dancer Hannah Eggen (Photograph by Akil Simmons)