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A whirlwind tour

Montana-born songstress who has sung backup for Celine Dion to perform at SMSU

January 14, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

In the last four months, singer/songwriter Hana Pestle has performed 80 shows at colleges around the country.

Next week, she'll be making a stop in Marshall.

Pestle is performing at 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, at Southwest Minnesota State University as part of her national college tour.

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Hana Pestle, a singer/songwriter originally from Billings, Mont., will perform Thursday, Jan. 19, at Southwest Minnesota State University. Pestle describes her music as “acoustic alternative rock.”

Originally from Billings, Mont., Pestle came to Los Angeles after she was "discovered" at one of her gigs when she was just 14 years old. Pestle said that a "friend of a friend of a friend" had a video brought to Ben Moody and Michael "Fish" Herring in L.A. Moody was the co-founder and lead guitarist of Evanescence and Herring is a guitarist, songwriter and producer who has worked with the likes of Christina Aguilera and Prince.

Before then, Pestle had been playing in various venues, from farmer's markets to coffee houses. She said she's been a "choir geek" since she was in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, she got her first guitar. A few years later, she was writing her own songs.

"Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember," Pestle said.

Pestle was just a junior in high school when she went out to L.A. to start recording. During her senior year, she would travel between her hometown in Montana to L.A. to work on her debut album "This Way."

Pestle said she's inspired by several things in her songwriting.

"I'm inspired by so much, a lot is relationships," she said. While she was creating "This Way," she had gone through a tough breakup, so a lot of the songs were about the relationship, Pestle said.

Otherwise, Pestle said she's inspired by nature, as being from Montana, she likes to get outside and go hiking or skiing, Literature is another form of inspiration. If she's experiencing writer's block, Pestle said she'll read a book and then write something from the perspective of one of the book's characters. For example, her song "The Red Dust Ball" is from Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Mask of the Red Death."

In 2008, Pestle was the opening act for the Collective Soul, Live and Blues Traveler tour. She's toured with several artists, including Sister Hazel and Joshua Radin.

The Collective Soul/Live/Blues Traveler tour was the second one Pestle had been on. She recalled being at the Red Rocks, Colo. venue at just 17 and wondering "what am I doing here?"

"It was the most amazing and surreal experience," she said.

It was also a learning experience for her, Pestle said, in talking with the longtime musicians. Pestle also sang backup vocals on Celine Dion's "Taking Chances" album. Moody had written the song for Dion and that is how Pestle got the chance to perform on it. Matching Dion's voice in the song was a little tough, Pestle said, but she was just amazed at the chance of singing with Dion.

During the summer and fall of last year, Pestle started working on her EP "For the Sky," which she has been promoting during her college tour.

"It's kind of a different sound than my previous album," Pestle said. "It's kind of a happier sound."

Pestle said she basically "locked herself" in her house for three months while planning, writing and producing "For the Sky."

"I produced the EP myself and that was a learning experience," she said.

Later this spring, Pestle plans on working on her next full-length album.

For any of her performances, whether for a large audience or an intimate show, Pestle, with just her and her guitar, takes pride in her voice.

"I really put my everything in my show," she said. She performs covers and takes requests. If she doesn't know a certain song, she'll try and learn it quick, she said. "All these college shows turn out to be fun."



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