Q and A with Erin Hill

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Our practical harpist hearts bursted with pride when we spotted harpist Erin Hill in a People magazine photo wheeling her harp into a New York City hotel where she reportedly performed for the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s baby shower. Harp Column readers might remember Hill from our 2013 cover interview with her. She’s a harpist whose playing crosses multiple genres—from pop to New Age to Celtic—we don’t even try to define her playing. Unfortunately, royal rules preclude her from talking about the the gig she reportedly played, but what we really want to know about is that fabulous harp cover, which had practical harpists everywhere drooling.

Tell us about that harp cover—it’s ingenious! 

Singing harpist Erin Hill shoots a music video for her Leonard Cohen cover “Hallelujah,” from her album Harp Town. MacLeod the Westie co-stars.

Thank you!  Well, I play with a lot of rock bands, and often your gear is being moved for you, driven cross country, loaded in for soundcheck, etc. I’ve played with The Fab Faux for close to 20 years now, and when I started playing with them, they would put a big piece of tape across my harp cover with my name on it (all the Fab Faux gear wold have the players’ names on each piece). After a few months, the tape started to curl around the edges, and had to be stripped off and replaced, and my harp cover was getting gooey and pretty disgusting. I finally said, Enough of this! I need a regular name patch! I had a guy who did canvas repair, who had patched up and repaired my harp cases for me, and I asked him about it. He had a friend who made the patch for me, and then he sewed it onto my harp case. He is actually unreachable now, and I have to find someone new to repair my harp case—it’s at the top of my list right now, ‘cause my harp cover is looking pretty beat!

None of us dream of being photographed schlepping our harp into a gig, but the shot People magazine got of you moving your harp turned out to be quite an effective piece of publicity. What kinds of reactions have you gotten from that photo?

It was the last thing on my mind that anyone would want a photo of me wheeling my harp in, I thought they would all completely ignore me. I’ve had so many friends get in touch with me to say they saw the photo, including the mother of a kid I grew up with in Kentuckiana who I hadn’t heard from since I was 12!

What kinds of responses have you gotten to the cover when you are out and about moving your harp?

Erin Hill’s harp at Newark Airport, on the way to play for travelers at the United Club.

Mostly people ignore it. I never thought that anyone would ever even comment on it! It mostly just helped me for playing with bands, or sometimes, I have to leave my harp overnight at a hotel, then when I come back the next day, someone else is working, and if my name is on my harp, and I show them my driver’s license, they will give me my harp back.

You’ve always got something interesting cooking—tell us what you’ve been up to since we reviewed your Harp Town album in 2016.

Aw, thanks!  Well, this past summer I put out my first Harp Town music video, for my Rihanna cover “Stay,” and I have four more music videos coming out in the next few months. I just released “Hallelujah,” my Leonard Cohen cover, and my Adele and Kate Bush covers will be next. The fourth new video is from my album of originals, Girl inventor, which was released by Cleopatra Records in 2017.
In May, I’m going to be a special guest at Abbey Road on the River in Jeffersonville, Indiana (right near Louisville)—it’s the world’s largest Beatles-inspired music festival, and I’ll be singing and playing my Beatles sets since I am a Beatles nut!
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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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