Family affair: Violet Hirst's musical tastes were influenced by her mum, Margaret O'Hanlon


It’s a family affair at Arrowtown’s The Blue Door on April 21.

Queenstown-raised singer/songwriter Violet Hirst, who is also the daughter of vocal impresario Margaret O’Hanlon, is performing at what she calls ‘‘one of my mum’s infamous Tiny Room concerts’’.

Hirst, 23, has sung with O’Hanlon at The Blue Door before, in a show called ‘Seven things you should tell your daughter’.

This time, the show is based on Hirst’s story, but O’Hanlon is still an influence ‘‘as always’’, Hirst jokes.

‘‘We actually do sing a lot at home together on the piano, I make her play piano for me to sing and she’ll harmonise, so that’s basically what’s gonna happen this time, except we’ll get [jazz pianist Louis Koopman] to actually play the piano.’’

Koopman is no stranger to the family, having played in the same band — Queenstown Funk Orchestra — as Hirst’s father, Nigel Hirst.

The show, called ‘Where have all the good songs gone?’, is based on Hirst’s feelings about contemporary music and a tribute to her discovery of ’90s, and earlier, ballads.

‘‘It comes from a place of … wanting to come back to myself, moving home and coming back to my roots,’’ Hirst says.

‘‘Even though I love modern contemporary music, a lot of them really throw out that old formula of, like, finding a hook or having a key change or even just having a good vocalist without effects and stuff.’’

The audience can expect to hear Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Jeff Buckley, Elizabeth Frazer, Bic Runga, The Bangles and Patti Smith.

She attributes her taste to her parents’ LP collection, recalling singing in the car with her mum.

‘‘Those would be the earliest times of me singing, I guess.’’

But despite O’Hanlon being one of Queenstown’s most respected vocal teachers and performers, Hirst stubbornly did not take lessons.

‘‘I couldn’t listen to her.

‘‘I wouldn’t really let her teach me but I would always go in her studio at Queenstown Performing Arts Centre after school and she would teach other kids and I would do my math homework or something.

‘‘I’d listen to these kids sing and I’d listen to her tell them exactly what to do,’’ Hirst says.

Over lockdown, Hirst says she ‘‘gave in’’ and started doing classes with O’Hanlon online.

‘‘She’s pretty insightful, you know, she’s right, and she’s taught me a lot more in the last two years and I do feel a lot more confident … more than I’ve ever been.’’

Where have all the good songs gone?, April 21, The Blue Door, Arrowtown, 6.30pm & 8.30pm, tickets $26.26 via eventbrite