Gone country: UK junior chases singing career

Student by week, country singer by weekend.

ISC and business junior  Hannah Ellis may seem like a typical UK student humming on her way to class.

But what most students don’t know is that Ellis released her first country album in December and is on her way to a professional singing and songwriting career.

Originally from Campbellsville, Ky., Ellis grew up in a musical household and started performing in singing competitions at age 11.

Ellis said she could not go a day without music and that singing is like breathing to her.

“Ever since I was little, it makes me feel that everything falls into place when I’m singing,” Ellis said.

Jacy Dawn, a songwriter in Nashville, Tenn., co-writes with Ellis and said Ellis is a strong songwriter.

“I think that with Hannah, she always has really good lines and ideas and melodies,” Dawn said. “Her ideas are very fresh and unique.”

Together, Dawn and Ellis co-wrote “When You’re Around” on her album “Let It Be Me.”

Ellis wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on her album, which Dawn said is “something special for such a young girl.”

“Every song has a unique sound to it, which is really cool,” Dawn said. “I see a really, really bright future for her, not just because of her talent but (because of) her personality.”

“Let it Be Me,” was produced independently, not under a record label, which Ellis said is not typical.

Not only does Ellis want to perform, but she also wants to successfully run her business, Hannah Ellis Music, manager herself and “maintain who I am while also being able to positively impact other people.”

She said when she graduates from UK, she will move to Nashville. But for now, she wants to get a degree and focus on the public relations path because she wants to be able to present herself.

“I don’t want to be handled. I want to be able to handle myself,” Ellis said.

Cigi Farmer, a freshman and one of Ellis’s best friends, said that Ellis does a good job balancing everything.

“She has the drive and the work ethic,” Farmer said. “She’s never let her grades drop, and she still makes time for her friends.”

On weekends, Ellis travels to perform shows around Kentucky. During the week, she practices guitar, prepares for weekend shows and develops song ideas.

“I think she has the total package,” Dawn said. “She’s a really nice person, she is fun to be around and she has a lot of energy. Those things combined make her stand out.”

Ellis said she never gets nervous before shows because the stage is where she feels at home.

She said that people sometimes doubt that she will make this her career.

“People have a hard time taking it seriously,” Ellis said. “(They say,) ‘Oh, you’re just a little girl from Kentucky.’ But Taylor Swift was a little girl from Pennsylvania.”

More information about Ellis and her album can be found at http://www.hannahellismusic.com.