Dr. Hannabiell Sanders holds a BFA in Music Education from Rutgers University and a MA and PhD in Music Performance from Newcastle University. Hannabiell is a charismatic musician, composer, activist and progressive music teacher who is committed to using music to break stereotypes and bring diverse communities together. Her skills in forming alliances, partnerships, and bringing people together has allowed for her to work with organisations across the globe.
Hannabiell is an African American Jamaican, originally from New Jersey, currently living in Newcastle upon Tyne. She began her musical and cultural journey as a trombone player at the age of nine. She is an accomplished bass trombonist and African & Latin hand percussionist whose talent was formally recognised in 2012 when she was awarded ‘Performing Artist of the Year’ at the Journal Culture Awards.
Hannabiell’s playing style is signified by tides of improvisation while her natural charm and eloquent oration exudes a confidence that takes her artistry away from the printed pages of the jazz schools and into something more uniquely organic but socially informed.
Hannabiell is the composer and musical director for the duet Ladies of Midnight Blue, a socially conscious ensemble that blends Afro-Latin percussion, brass, mbira, and handpan. Since moving to the North East of England, she has worked hard to recreate her Afro-psychedelic collective, Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, which is a direct reflection of its diverse fan base and audience. Their performances never fail to convey the band’s passion for equality and social change. For Hannabiell, music is a means for breaking down personal and cultural barriers.
Hannabiell has been the Artistic Director for Harambee Pasadia CIC since April 2018, a cultural organisation that creates, organises, and manages activities and events showcasing music, dance, arts, theatre, and films from the Pan-African diaspora.
Hannabiell has always sought to build a society that values, supports and empower artists, whilst making arts accessible to as many people as possible with a focus on the diversity found within the wider African communities. She has merged her skills as a musician and manager to create music programmes that are both commercially viable and innovative through her trademark, “collaboration not competition” approach.
During her Residency at the Sage Gateshead she will learn, explore, and experiment with weaving narrative, improvisation, and electronics into her music to better express the themes of identity, freedom, and protest culture that tie her work together. She will be creating a stage show that features herself as a soloist and both her ensembles’ Ladies of Midnight Blue and the Hannabiell & Midnight Blue Collective.