Hanna Sikasa – Main Vocals , Wurlitzer
Julia Nagele – Backing Vocals
Nadja Lea Letzgus – Backing Vocals
Matthias Jung – Backing Vocals
Christoph Braun – Trompete + Flügelhorn
Juri Kannheiser – Cello
Klaus Sebastian Klose – Kontrabass
Tim Pförtner – Schlagzeuger
Manfred Mildenberger – Additional Shaker
Mariko Umae – Geige
Živa Ciglenecki – Geige
Christian Döring – Bratsche
Johannes Gutfleisch – Cello
“Sequel” is what Afro-German singer and composer Hanna Sikasa calls her new album: “Fort-setzung”. One could therefore think of it as a continuation of her debut album “Origin”. A continuation of her path to success, which was abruptly interrupted by the pandemic in a decisive phase. A continuation of her artistic process, which she herself describes for the album as follows: “The songs tell of letting go and growing, of the search for one’s own identity, of loneliness and deep connection, sometimes also of saying goodbye – perhaps simply of growing up.
And yet “Sequel” is also a premiere. Origin” was released without a label and only digitally and on vinyl, so now we can speak of a debut CD. Above all, however, we can now experience a Hanna Sikasa who has matured once again, who has honed herself as a singer and composer just as much as she has honed the proven and new material, which is rounded off on the album to form a remarkable whole. If the Süddeutsche Zeitung already wrote about her in 2019: “Catchy me-lodies, but sung and arranged in a complex way, with poppy clarity, jazzy timbre and poetic, sometimes almost hypnotic lyrics, that is Sikasa’s already quite distinctive recipe”, she has now brought her music even more succinctly to the point.
Sequel” is the culmination of Hanna Sikasa’s career. Born and raised in Augsburg, she is the daughter of a Kenyan and a Swiss, who as a child simply wanted to make music and sing. She had piano lessons throughout her school years, and after graduating from high school, she decided to study music. She studied jazz singing in Nuremberg with Elisa-beth Tuchmann and Reinette van Zijfeld-Lustig, and later with Fola Dada in particular, but then moved away from “pure teaching”: “I really like jazz standards, but when I write something, something else comes out.” More like pop, but one infused with jazz, soul and R’n’B elements, never arbitrary, always quite personal. Music that stands out so recognizably that Sikasa received the Music Prize of the City of Augsburg for it in 2017 and a music scholarship from the City of Munich in 2018.
So it is the quality of her compositions and arrangements and the expressiveness of her style, but above all the stories that make her songs special. When she tells of the “magic words that only we know” in the cheerful-impressionistic “Beautiful Jungle”. About growing up and letting go in the ambivalent “Gonna Let Go”. When she transforms into a bird in the fairytale-like “Bird” and finally maintains this perspective in the final philosophical “Up In The Air”: “We are so small”. Her jazz origins can be heard again and again because of the great vocalizations and scat-like onomatopoeias, perhaps most clearly on “Mess”, where – in keeping with the story of “chaos in my head” – the chorus is accompanied by galvanized rhythms, trumpet solos, vocalizations and a classic “ending”.
Hanna Sikasa always finds a theme and a melody that, thanks to her sometimes fairy-like, sometimes stormy vocals, burrows into the listener’s heart and soul via the auditory canals. But the whole power of the songs unfolds thanks to their “band family”. Her companions are all friends from the Augsburg, Nuremberg and Munich scene, most of whom have accompanied her and her project for a very long time. First and foremost is guitarist and singer/songwriter Julia “Jules” Nagele, whom Sikasa met just like trumpeter Christoph Braun in the Bavarian Youth Jazz Orchestra, with whom she has also been performing as a duo for years and has successfully organized living room concerts. The singer and keyboardist Nadja Lea Letzgus, her best friend from university, with whom Sikasa is also on tour as Club Flor de Maio, where Sikasa not only sings but also plays the double bass. With Matthias Jung, Jules and Letzgus form a brilliant, perfectly harmonizing background choir.
It continues with the drummer Julian Losigkeit, who already led the recordings for “Origin” and now, together with Klaus-Sebastian Klose on bass, forms the groovy, rich foundation of the band. Still missing is Juri Kannheiser, one of the not so numerous classical cellists, who also loves and masters other genres, who often takes on a rhythmic role here and together with Christoph Braun – especially on the flugelhorn – is largely responsible for the warm, full sound of the band. Finally, Sikasa afforded himself a special luxury and expanded the band for some pieces with the great Leopold Mozart String Quartet with Ma-riko Umae and Živa Ciglenecki on violins, Christian Döring on viola and Johannes Gut-fleisch on cello.
Together, they make Hanna Sikasa’s music soar and roar on “Sequel.” And yes, in one respect the album will definitely be a sequel: in the enthusiastic critics’ voices, when they attest Hanna Sikasa “fairy-tale songs”, “shining arrangements” and a “timbre to fall in love with”. Or simply “music that you want to hear floating from Bal-konen on warm evenings.”