Hannah Berney from BBC's The Voice sang for the Queen at the official opening of the Forum

Hannah stars in The Voice

If you’re one of the 10 million people who’ve been following BBC’s The Voice, you’ll be familiar with the incredible singing talent of Hannah Berney.

Hannah is currently studying History with French Studies under Exeter's Flexible Combined Honours programme and was one of the final five singing for 'Team Danny'.

We caught up with Hannah on the day after she sang for the Queen at the opening of our exciting new Forum facility on campus:

Hannah, what’s more nerve-wracking; singing in Portuguese for the Queen, or being a contestant on BBC’s The Voice?

Both, completely different types of nerves, but I am so immensely grateful to be able to do both in one week. The pressure is exciting.

How did singing for the Queen at the opening of the University of Exeter Forum come about, and how did it feel?

I was asked to sing the song for another event, and then invited to perform it again for HRH. When I read the email I'd come back from London from a meeting about 11pm at night, and I honestly thought I was over-tired or something - I could not believe it! When I was 11 I sang in my village hall at the Golden Jubilee celebrations, it wasn't a world class performance let's say, so to be able to sing for her in person is a marker of just how far I've come vocally.

When did you first realise that you could sing so well?

Aged 10 in my school play, I sang a blues song and thought it was very cool. It was from around then I got singing lessons, but I'd been putting on shows for my lovely family from as soon as I could walk and talk. We have embarrassing home videos to confirm this.

Why did you choose to come to Exeter to study?

Loved the course, loved the huge number of sports and societies and also just by instinct. If I hadn't have come here, I wouldn't have the opportunities I have today.

What do you like most about studying here?

The Uni itself is beautiful and I've had loads of great lecturers! Exeter is the perfect sized city, I love knowing loads of people when walking round campus as it's not too big. Even if the queues for Arena on Cheesy Tuesdays are obscene, I still like it.

How has the University helped you combine studying with your appearances on The Voice?

My lecturers have been incredible, whilst I haven't had special dispensation for the exams which run throughout the live shows, I've been given revision help, lecture catch-ups and lecture recordings, as well as options for deadline extensions on my essays.

You’re affiliated with Mama Stones in town, and so is Adam Isaac, another contestant on The Voice. Can you tell me a little about Mama Stones?

Mama Stones is the best venue in Exeter, and I'm not biased! I got involved there through a little bit of research, but also because I got to know a lot of the musicians there. People go there to hear good music and that's what they get! Whilst living in London and being on The Voice I have really missed the house band gigs I so loved doing on Saturday nights with top musicians. I'm now doing gigs that are slightly bigger on Saturdays...

What’s it been like working with Danny O’ Donoghue?

Fun, exciting, and I have learnt so much. It's more like a musical collaboration, which I love!

Who’s your favourite singer?

Can't name one; Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Gavin Degraw and Beyonce.

What are your hopes for the future, both academically and for your singing career?

To be happy, successful and always looking for something exciting in whatever I do. My ultimate goal is to release an album every year, tour it and enjoy making music.

Hannah did a great job to finish in Team Danny's final five, and now has a singing contract with 'Mama Stones' in Exeter.  Watch Hannah's live performance on The Voice on the BBC website.


Date: 3 May 2012

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