Hannah Ford: The Princess Ride

“Now, that being said,” she continues. “I have totally watched John Blackwell recently because he played at South By Southwest and there have been a few times when we had been at Paisley with the whole band and I really soaked in how John played, and the power that he played with. He’s the most recent drummer and there are just so many songs I’ve had to learn that watching him play them has helped me learn the parts for the big band stuff and ’the hits band.’ But as far as the 3rd Eye Girl stuff goes and the heavier rock stuff, man, I’m totally letting me just come out full force. You will hear John Bonham come out on that playing and you might see Shiela come out or you might hear some jazz influence from Art Blakey or Louie Bellson. That how it’s supposed to be. People can hear your influence but ultimately they have to hear and see you.”

The Family That Plays Together …

Barely in her twenties, Ford is part of the generation where the idea of a hard-rocking pro-level female drummer is no longer shocking. Hell, it’s largely because of Ford that it’s no longer a novelty. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, before moving to Chicago at age 12. Ironically, the Windy City was not nearly as open-minded as its musically adventurous reputation would suggest. “Once I got to high school that’s when I really started to feel the prejudice kick in,” she says. The negativity didn’t end there – the guys in her curriculum at Roosevelt were judgmental too. But chauvinism isn’t about geography in the online world where she felt the most heat. “The comments on my YouTube videos were just hateful for no reason. I don’t know what it is … I guess people just would rather see a dude be playing the drums.”

During that dark period, tear-filled phone conversations with her dad helped get if off her chest, but ultimately she had to face down the detractors on her own. “You can either allow yourself to become a victim or you can conquer what you go through and come out on top.” Now that she enjoys the halo effect that Prince can bestow on anyone, the flamers are likely to wither away – not that Hannah cares. “I don’t do this for them anyway.”

Outside of Prince and the other drum-centric activities, Ford collaborates with her husband, Joshua, a music composer; producer; and saxophonist. To date, the couple has already written enough material for a recording. “At some point we’d love to tour with our band. Prince has shown some interest in us as a duo as well, so when the right time comes that’ll be released. But for right now we’re just enjoying this ride.”

A band-like harmony is a rare thing when you get into the diva-prone pop world. Whatever the long-term prospects of 3rd Eye Girl, Ford sees it as its own reward. After all, Hanging with Donna, Ida, and Prince isn’t a job description; it’s good times. “I think we’ll always be around each other and we’ll always work together because it’s just so much fun and we really enjoy each other’s company.”

Even with all that she has accomplished, it’s early in Ford’s career. She still has a lot to prove – both to her peers and herself. As for the haters, the ones that don’t kill her only make her stronger: “With everything that I’ve gone through in my life I make every situation enhance me as a person.”

She hasn’t chosen the easiest way to make a living, especially in picking her instrument, but who said it was her idea? “I can’t help that that I was called to be a drummer. I had no choice in that I was born to do this.”

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