Hedvig Hanson (b. 22.04.1975) is an Estonian jazz singer. Her mother, Novella Hanson was a singer in 1970’s and 80’s, singing beat and r&b music, later she began to sing jazz and playing piano. Nowadays she is teaching jazzsinging to young singers. Hedvig’s father is an actor, Tõnu Kilgas, who is also known as a singer. Hedvig’s parents met in 1973 when they were together in a popular pop-rock group Fix. They were married but divorced soon after Hedvig was born.
Hedvig was raised by her granny, in a little town Tõrva. All her songs prominently feature expressions of emotion and closeness to nature. But not only. Hedvig got her first musical impressions from her mother, who listened soul and r&b music at home (Earth, Wind And Fire, Randy Crawford, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder etc.).
According to Hedvig’s mother, Hedvig began to sing at the age of two already, singing lyrically and emotionally. In 1981 Hedvig began to study classical music, playing piano and on 1992 she graduated Tallinn School Of Music with flying colours. By that time Hedvig had moved to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, to live with her mother.
As a teenager Hedvig was a huge fan of Whitney Houston, she was dedicating herself to Whitney’s music, practicing her ballads, requiring a good vocal technique. Hedvig has said that Whitney has been the only true singing teacher to her and the best vocal influence for a start, later she just had to find her own way to make music. The first big success came in 1993 at the Estonian Television song contest “Kaks takti ette” (“Two Bars Forward”), when Hedvig won the first prize, singing the grand song of Mariah Carey, “Vision Of Love”. She had her own radioshow “Emotions”, where she played soul and r&b music and she had a group, called “Con Spirito”, playing soul and funk music. Hedvig says that musically there are two sides in her, the lyrical side, inspired by classical music and nature and the funky side, inspired by r&b and groove music.
In 1997 the jazzgroup “Basic Concept” discovered Hedvig’s talent and together they recorded her debut album “Love For Sale”. As there were the best jazzmen of Estonia, playing and arranging the songs, it was really something new and exiting for the listeners and for Hedvig also. For the first time in her life, a jazz has touched Hedvig’s soul and that album, containing famous jazzstandards got her moving clearly in the jazz direction. Her second album “Let Me Love You” (2000) marked her coming of age, the artist’s musical independence with the presentation of her own works. In 2001 with her first album in Estonian, “Tule mu juurde” (“Come To Me”) she received the titles of female jazz of the year and the jazz and the blues artist of the year.
Hedvig’s fourth album “What Colour Is Love” (2003) was released by Universal/Emarcy, it was her first international album. The European jazzcritics deem it a true indicator of mastery. In the same year Hedvig was voted Estonian Radio’s musician of the year and received the titles of the female artist of the year and the jazz artist of the year at the Estonian Music Awards Ceremony.
Hedvig’s second international album, “You Bring Me Joy” appeared in 2005. It was the international version of her previous Estonian – language album “Nii õrn on öö”(“Tender Is The Night”), a duet with quitarplayer Andre Maaker.
The “Ema laulud” (“Mother’s Songs”) album came out in 2006, containing old folk songs and Hedvig’s own musical pieces, was dedicated to her first son Holger.
The “Kohtumistund”(“Hour Of Encounter”) album appeared in 2008. That album earned Hedvig another jazz artist of the year title.
The compilation album “Armastuslaulud” (“Love Songs”) came out in late 2009, being basically Hedvig’s most beautiful songs in Estonian she has been singing since 2001.
In spring 2011 the singer returned with a more dance-music styled album appropriately called “Tants kestab veel” (“The Beat Goes On”), reminding listeners of Hedvig’s special fondness of rhytmic and groovy music.The album containes several famous Estonian beat music pieces and the artist’s own works. This is also Hedvig’s first album with electrical instruments instead of their acoustic counterparts, played by the best young musicians.
Hedvig’s songs have also appeared next to works of other prominent jazz artists in foreign jazz and club music compilations: “Famous 3″: The Finest Female Jazz Today”, “The Kings Of Jazz”, “Nightfly: Yesterday, Today & Tonight”.
Her inspirations in vocal jazz are Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Sarah Vaughan, but she is also a great admirer of instrumental jazzmusicians – Pat Metheny, Milton Nascimento, Brad Mehldau, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Ralph Towner, Paolo Fresu.
In autumn 2010 Hedvig received the annual award of Estonian Cultural Endowment for a brilliant year of creative work.
While living in the quiet little village in the South of Estonia, and raising her two sons, she is still active as a singer and songwriter, giving concerts in concert halls, clubs and jazzfestivals. Hedvig also writes jazz articles and reviews for the biggest newspaper of Estonia, “Postimees”. In autumn 2012 the first book of Hedvig “Jutustamata lugu” (“The Untold Story”) was out and became the readers favourite at once. It tells a dramatic story about her grandmother, Ellen Kaarma (1928-1973), who was a beloved actress during the difficult Soviet Union time in the theatre “Vanemuine”.
In 2012 – 2013 Hedvig is singing a leading role in the same theatre, performing in a jazzshow “Moonlight Express”.
In spring 2013 a new album from Hedvig Hanson will be released.