Crushed singer overcame childhood fear and found her voice

Ania Hardy

Ania Hardy - Credit: Archant

Soulful singer-songwriter, Ania Hardy, who has been described as the “sonic love-child of Bill Withers and Ella Fitzgerald” has just released her first record, after overcoming a childhood fear of singing which lasted nearly two decades.

Ania singing

Ania singing - Credit: Archant

Ania Hardy, 32, was left scarred following a stinging put-down when she was a little girl.

Many people might have memories of a glib, unthinking comment in an art class or music lesson, which crushed their innocent childhood enthusiasm for creativity, and sadly for lots of people that’s also where their creative journey ends.

This could have been the case too for Ania, and her extraordinary singing talent which remained hidden for 20 years may never have been discovered at all.

She said: “When I was a little girl I remember, as clear as day, coming home from school with some friends and being asked, ‘What did you learn in school today?’

“Bursting with youthful joy we replied, ‘An African song,’” remembers x year old Ania who was born in Hackney’s Mothers’ Hospital and still living nearby in Lea Bridge Road.

“We excitedly planned out who would sing which part and when finally it was my turn, I sang out with all my heart,” she remembers.

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“But instead of the enthusiastic response I’d hoped for, I was met with laughter. I was completely and totally shocked and crushed.

“The life sucked out of me in that instant. I vowed in that moment that I would never, ever sing in front of anyone ever again.”

Her vow lasted for nearly 20 years until she was 26, when she began going to an open mic night every week where she watched the artists in awe.

“Somewhere from the depths within, my desire to sing again began to surface,” she said.

“Then, after about seven months or so, to my house mates complete surprise, I eventually plucked up the courage to sing one song at the open mic night I had been going to for so long.”

Recalling that first, terrifying, time she sang at the open mic night, Ania said: “The joy I felt from overcoming that personal block and fear of singing was the most liberating experience of my life.”

She has never looked back and this Tuesday night she will be singin at The Hideaway Bar in Tufnell Park for the launch of her first record – My Beloved – which combines musical influences from blues and folk to gospel, soul and jazz.

Ania now teaches others how to find their own voices, through her singing courses that focus on helping people to overcome low self-confidence and to find their hidden talent.

Her singing groups have included women at-risk of reoffending who have been through the criminal justice system, giving them a creative outlet to express themselves in a safe and welcoming environment.

She said: “I know from first-hand experience how petrifying it is to become so locked inside and frozen with terror by a previous experience. I also know it is possible to overcome this fear - when we are ready. “It is not an easy process by any means, but, without a doubt, it is the most rewarding thing a human can do.

“There is nothing in the world I enjoy more than being able to witness another person expressing themselves in their fullest or for the first time.

“Singing is a wonderfully healing and enjoyable thing to do - it can lift the spirits as well as allow a space to unravel and express emotions we might not otherwise express. It is a means of creative expression – good for the heart, mind, body and soul.”

Ania will be singing at The Hideaway Bar 114 Junction Road, Tufnell Park at 8pm on Tuesday July 28.