Hannah: Well, I’ve been touring the East Coast from here to New York and working on the new CD, “Goodbye on Wasted Time,” which my fans helped to fund. It will be released on Feb. 2 at Red Clay Theatre. Sonia Tetlow and Sarah Golden of “The Voice” will be there with me.
Tell me about the Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) connection on the new record.
We met through mutual friends. I’ve always been a fan of Amy’s. I told her that I had this song called “Pacifier” that I would love for her to sing on with me. She listened to it, liked it and the next thing I knew, she was in the studio with me. It was one of the biggest moments of my life.
Any plans to work with her in the future?
Yes, we are going to be playing together at the Crimson Moon Cafe in Dahlonega for the “Writers in the Round” show on Jan. 25 and I’m so excited.
For a while, your sexuality has been a secret. I’m just going to ask: are you gay?
Ummm, well…I came out to my mom a few months ago but that’s pretty much it.
How did that go?
Not so great. We have a really good relationship so it was tough. She asked me if I wanted to be a man. I think she still doesn’t believe me. Everybody wants their kid to have babies and the white wedding.
But you can still do all that.
Yeah! We’ve had that conversation. She wanted to know how I know that I’m gay. Well, I don’t really think she wants to have that conversation. (laughs)
When did you know?
I’ve always known. It has become very apparent in the last four years. Music helped me to work through it. When I was younger, I really liked Ginger Spice. I didn’t really understand why I liked Ginger Spice so much but I did.
Who’s your celebrity crush today?
I can’t name her!
Why? Are you afraid it will get back to her?
If it does get back to her, how is that bad?
Okay. Terri Clark. (laughs)
Have you come out to the rest of your family?
No. My mom doesn’t want me to say anything to them or to even talk about it. I’m pretty sure my dad knows. I think he would think it would be really cool if I brought a hot girl home for Christmas which is going to happen someday. My brother calls my music “butch music” so I think he may also know.
It’s just kind of hard for them because in a small town, everybody talks. I have hope for everybody – even people in small towns. I think if they would learn more about being gay and gain more knowledge about it, they’d be cool with it.
Are you worried about them reading this interview?
I’ve never talked about this in an interview so I don’t know. But my new CD is gay so they’ll all know soon.
Does your family ever come to your shows?
Yes. My grandma is my biggest fan. My family members are the only ones at my shows who are not yelling and dancing when I sing, “I drank the devil’s water, kissed the preacher’s daughter” — they kind of stand out.
What motivated you to come out?
I spent a lot of time with Amy Ray and I got to see that you can be gay and successful. At first, I did the country music thing so I felt I needed to hide it because country doesn’t accept it that much. But recently, I read Chely Wright’s book about her being a country singer and coming out and it was so inspiring.
Then, this past Pride weekend was two days after National Coming Out Day. I didn’t come out that day but I thought a lot about it and why I should. Then, I went to see Amy Ray play on Sunday. She played “Rural Faggot” and it just made me decide that the next day, I was going to come out. And I did.
I wrote all of the songs on my new CD and they are my story. “Pacifier” is about giving in and not hiding it anymore. I think most of my fans know and it won’t surprise many people to find out that I’m gay. I’m out and proud now.
Top photo: Hannah Thomas describes her music as ‘rockin’ Americana’ — ‘a little too rock to be country, a little too country to be rock.’ (by Dyana Bagby)