When Harriet was very young, her Grandad played guitar and sang, although he never did any gigs. He would just record himself in his attic and would usually let Harriet play along with him on the bass drum he’d made out of wood. When Harriet was around eight years old, her Grandad died of cancer and he had passed down his precious guitar to her. It was a year later that Harriet decided to learn how to play guitar. Her mum (Rebecca McDonnell) taught Harriet how to play the three-chord trick and this lead her on to the writing of her first song, which was about the passing away of her Grandad.
Harriet then went on to having professional guitar lessons at her school (Ockbrook School) and was taught how to play classical guitar for about a year. She then finally persuaded her teacher to teach her chords and well-known songs in which would get her more interested. Week in, week out he would then teach Harriet cover songs which she has saved up and she still plays some of them at gigs today.
Harriet joined the school choir to train her voice up but she didn’t like it much because she is not religious in anyway but she stuck with it and it has helped her a lot. She tried singing lessons at various different places but wasn’t keen and gave them up after a year or so. This made her realise that she would become self-taught.
At thirteen years of age, Harriet wrote her first commercial song called ‘Black, Red and Green’ in which is about young Harriet wanting to grow up to be a rocker by dying her hair different colours but her parents not letting her. She still play this song today and it’s quite a favourite with her friends and fans!
During this time, Harriet also learned how to play electric guitar because her favourite genre was, and still is rock music, even though she is passionate about nearly every genre.
Harriet joined the Derby ‘School of Rock’ and there they taught her how to form a band, learn songs as a band, record and perform as a band and this is where she met her bassist for her first rock band ‘The Unknown Cause’.
Harriet also met her guitarist for her latest band ‘RaNk’. But there has but a few different bands in between that didn’t quite go to plan. ‘RaNk’ is Harriet’s side project in a way, it is very different music to her solo work.
At fourteen years old, Harriet wrote her next song ‘Freak’ which was about a boyfriend at the time. This is the first song that Harriet could really show off her guitar skills in by playing it in a totally different tuning.
It was at this age that Harriet first went into the Silk Mill pub in Derby and saw a musician performing. She built up the courage to go up ask him whether that she could play in his break in which he accepted. The crowd seemed to love her music and the landlord asked Harriet to do a monthly slot on a Friday. From these gigs, more people heard Harriet play and they offered more gigs in different places, which made Harriet musical popularity grow.
Harriet then wrote her first instumental song called ‘Rabbit Run’.
Ever since then, Harriet’s fan base has grown significantly, along with her repertoire of cover songs and my originals.
In September, 2012 Harriet had an opportunity to play in Derby Market place on a big stage on a busy Saturday. Andy Potter from BBC Radio Derby was presenting the show and asked Harriet to then appear on his Radio show ‘Acoustic Sessions’ where she played two of her songs ‘DRUNK’ and ‘Bruises’ followed by an interview and this stirred some more interest for Harriet around Derby.
Harriet then recorded ‘DRUNK’ professionally and tried to get in on BBC Radio’s ‘The Beat’. Dean Jackson rang up one morning telling Harriet that they could not play ‘DRUNK’ for it had the word ‘queer’ in it, even though it was nothing against anyone, the song is just an innocent story about someone being drunk.
Harriet then had to record ‘DRUNK’ again and replace the word ‘queer’ with ‘weird’ and it then got accepted and finally played on ‘The Beat’ nationally on a Saturday night.
Today, Harriet still plays with her rock band, ‘RaNk’ and still plays solo acoustically. She has now played in many venues such as Rock City in Nottingham to The Venue’s ‘Radar Love’ nights. Harriet has also played festivals such as Osfest, Rock and Blues in Pentrich, Rock and Bike Festival, Y Not Festival and many more.