Lisa Margaret Hannigan (born 12 February 1981) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician. She began her musical career as a member of Damien Rice's band. Since beginning her solo career in 2007 she has released two albums: Sea Sew (2008) and Passenger (2011). Hannigan's music has received award nominations both in Ireland and the USA.


 [hide*1 Early life and education

Early life and education[edit]Edit

Hannigan was born in Dublin but grew up in Kilcloon, County Meath, Ireland.[4] She attended primary school at Scoil Oilibhéir Naofa[5] in Kilcloon and secondary school at The King's Hospital in Palmerstown and enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin to study Art History.[6]


While still in college Hannigan met Damien Rice at a concert in Dublin in early 2001.[7][8] Rice enlisted Hannigan to sing on his 2002 album O and his later album "9", featured in the hit "9 Crimes". She toured with Rice as part of his band during that period[7][9] lending vocal support and occasionally playing electric guitar, bass guitar or drums.[7]

In 2007, Hannigan returned to Dublin and began a solo career.[8][9][3][4][10] Some of Hannigan's live recordings were made available through trading networks radio shows. These recordings included: "Willy" by Joni Mitchell, "Be My Husband" by Nina Simone (from the 1965 album Pastel Blues), "Mercedes Benz" byJanis Joplin and "Love Hurts" by Roy Orbison. Hannigan also performed live with her own band, called The Daisy Okell Quartet and contributed guest vocals to the recordings of Mic ChristopherThe Frames and Herbie Hancock.

Sea Sew[edit]Edit

Lisa Hannigan's debut solo album, titled Sea Sew, was rehearsed in a barn in Thomastown and recorded in Dublin before being released in Ireland in September 2008.[11] The lead single, "Lille", was made available as a free Internet download and other tracks were available for preview on her Myspace page.[12] The sleeve featured needle-work by Hannigan.[13][14] Some music critics called the recording one of the best Irish albums of the year.[15][16]

Sea Sew received favourable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.[4][17] The single "Lille", released in August 2008 on Irish and American radio stations.[3] Hannigan performed atElectric Picnic 2008.[18] Hannigan was the opening act for singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his U.S. tour in 2008.[19]

That year, she appeared on the charity album Even Better Than the Disco Thing and performed a duet of Mick Flannery's new song "Christmas Past" with Flannery on Tony Fenton's Christmas Special onToday FM.[2][20] In December 2008, she made her UK solo debut at St Johns Church in London.[21] Hannigan signed with ATO Records in the U.S., where her album was released in February 2009.[22]

Sea Sew was nominated for the Choice Music Prize and Best Irish Album at the Meteor Music Awards in January 2009.[23][24][25]

That year, Hannigan appeared on the American television shows Jay Leno and The Colbert Report.[4][9][26] In 2009, Hannigan also appeared on the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland, performing her song "I Don't Know".[9][27][28] Sea Sew rose in the UK charts following this appearance[citation needed] and she performed at Glastonbury 2009 music festival and went on tour later in the year.[21][28][29][30] She performed at the nomination ceremony and she was greeted by confused journalists wondering "Lisa who?".[11]

Hannigan performed at Electric Picnic 2009[4][31][32] Later in 2009, she toured the United States with David Gray and performed solo shows in New York, Los Angeles and London.[33] She then began a tour of Ireland to finish the year.[33] Hannigan's song "Ocean and Rock" was used in a 2009 Irish video supporting same-sex marriage entitled "Sinéad's Hand".[34] As part of an advertisement campaign forOxfam's Make Trade Fair, Hannigan was drenched in melted chocolate and she participated in the Irish musical collective The Cake Sale with lead vocal on the track Some Surprise, which was played on the US television series Grey's Anatomy.[7][35][36][37]

Hannigan also contributed to the 2009 charity album, Sparks n' Mind, released in aid of Aware.[38]

In 2009, a broadcast of Other Voices was recorded.[39]


Hannigan recorded her second album, titled Passenger, at Bryn Derwen Studios in North Wales with producer Joe Henry and engineer Ryan Freeland. The album was released in the US and Canada on 20 September 2011, and on 7 October in Ireland and the UK.[40][41]

Hannigan performed at the Eurosonic Festival in 2012 when Ireland was the "Spotlight Country".[42]

In 2013 Hannigan contributed vocals to the soundtrack for Alfonso Cuarón's film Gravity.


Her music has received critical praise, airplay and award nominations both in her native Ireland and the United States. In 2008, her debut album Sea Sew spawned the single "Lille", a Choice Music Prizenomination, two Meteor Music Awards nominations and a Mercury Prize nomination.[citation needed]

Hannigan performs using "broken-down, wheezy old instruments".[9] Herbie Hancock said of her vocals, "there's so much jazz in the notes and phrases that she picks. She was singing the ninths, the elevenths of the chords...I mean some of the things sound like choices that Miles would have made." [43]


Main article: Lisa Hannigan discographyFurther information: Discography of Damien Rice*Sea Sew (2008)

  • Passenger (2011)


Hot Press Readers' Poll[edit]Edit

Hannigan has four Hot Press Readers' Poll awards. She won Best Debut Album, Best Irish Album, Best Irish Track and Best Female in 2009.[21]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Best Debut Album Won
2009 Sea Sew Best Irish Album Won
2009 Best Irish Track Won
2009 Lisa Hannigan Best Female Won

Choice Music Prize[edit]Edit

Hannigan's debut album, Sea Sew, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2009.[44]

Hannigan's second album, Passenger, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize in January 2012 and she also lost out to Jape that year.[45]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Irish Album of the Year 2008 Nominated
2012 Passenger Irish Album of the Year 2011 Nominated

Meteor Music Awards[edit]Edit

Hannigan and her work was nominated in the Best Irish Female and Best Irish Album categories at the Meteor Music Awards in 2009.[46] She was the only solo artist nominated in more than one category at the awards. She lost to Imelda May and The Script's self-titled album respectively.[47]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Best Irish Album Nominated
2009 Lisa Hannigan Best Irish Female Nominated

Mercury Prize[edit]Edit

Sea Sew was nominated for the Mercury Prize on 21 July 2009.[48][49][50] It was Hannigan's first nomination.

Hannigan was referred to as 2009's "token folk nominee" in the UK,[35] with the NME calling her a "token folkie".[51] One British journalist even claimed she was "truly obscure" and part of the "moribund sensitive singer-songwriter genre".[35] Ed Power, writing in the Irish Independent, criticised such claims, wondering if Jape (whose album Ritual beat Hannigan to the Choice Music Prize) had come close to receiving a Mercury nomination—"Or, for that matter, how many of the judges had even heard of him".[35]

Year Recipient Award Result
2009 Sea Sew Best Album Nominated
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