Talk of the Town by Mary McKenna

Who would guess a sleepy little town like Hudson is turning out rock stars? A few months into writing this column and speaking with parents, kids, teachers and business owners ­– all of whom impress and inspire me with their hearts for service, their ingenuity, their talent for spelling bees or acting, science fairs, sports and more – I’m not surprised.

Perhaps Michele Collins, fellow mom of five, put it best, simply saying, “It’s really cool!” about her own daughter Hannah’s career as a singer/songwriter. I have to agree. It’s really cool how kids have these gifts they’re just born with, that parents nurture and support, and it’s especially gratifying when the world at large takes notice.

Hudson Life contributor Michele Collins walks the red carpet in London with her daughter Hannah Collins, an HHS grad. Photo submitted

In Michele’s case, support for Hannah’s love of music meant early voice lessons, cheering her on at school talent shows, choir concerts and plays, and, of course, taxiing her to live concerts when she was too young to drive herself. 

“I knew she was unique and really loved music. She’s kind of shy but if you give her a microphone, she’s on,” observed Michele. “Once she started singing, that was it. By seventh or eighth grade, she knew this is what she wanted. As a parent, you’re worried their dreams are gonna be broken, but I’m really proud of her for persevering and doing what she wants to do.”

Hannah, a 2015 Hudson High School grad, went on to study voice with a minor in music business at California State University. It was during the pandemic, after losing her jobs in LA and returning home for a few months, that Hannah persevered, writing and sharing her music in new ways on TikTok. She is now an accomplished solo artist with a record label, about a million monthly listeners and over 700,000 TikTok followers, according to Michele. Recently, Hannah – who goes by the stage name of “Scene Queen” – was named “Best International Breakthrough Artist” at the 2023 Heavy Music Awards in Wembley Arena in London. A little to Michelle’s surprise, when Hannah was nominated for the award, she said the first person she wanted by her side was mom.

“It meant so much to me when she said, ‘I want to bring my first-ever fan as my date’” said Michelle, who rushed to get an expedited passport and join her daughter in London for the awards show. “I was really touched.”

At her daughter’s request, and as a show of continued support, Michelle wore a sparkly pink blazer (Hannah’s signature color) to watch her daughter perform on the biggest stage she’s ever performed on and receive her first major music award.

“My whole thing was I wanted to be there for that moment. And if she didn’t win, then the moment would be that I was proud of her that she was nominated,” said Michelle. “But then the moment happened that she did win, so she had all her record people, but she had her mom too. … I’ve always known she was talented, but it’s nice when other people see that.”

Almost a celebrity herself, a local radio station interviewed Michelle while she was there, and her daughter’s fans clamored to high-five her, ecstatic to see “Scene Queen’s mom!” Hannah’s currently working on her third album with Hopeless Records this summer, with plans to return to London in the fall. A little bit of a warning: Her music is rated mature and does have some swear words and mature themes.  

The Hudson High Chamber Choir took to its own, international stage recently, performing throughout Ireland for a 10-day tour of the country this summer.  According to HHS Chamber Choir Director Jacob Moore, the purpose of the trip was to give students the opportunity to perform in another country in venues they wouldn’t normally, including many beautiful churches such as Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey, St. Mary’s Church of Ireland in Killarney, St. Multose Church in Kinsale and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. During their tour, the choral group took in the landscape and many of the local sights, visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Kylemore Abbey, Ring of Kerry and the Rock of Cashel.

“The kids also sang for the public in the city of Killarney as well as waiting in line for the Blarney Stone,” said Moore. “Honestly, they sang wherever we went.”

According to Moore, he’s been looking forward to traveling internationally with the chamber choir ever since his arrival at HHS in 2015, but this experience exceeded expectations. 

“To be able to tour Ireland for 10 days, see all of the sights and perform in such world renowned venues like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin are things that I won’t soon forget. However, my absolute favorite part of the trip was to witness the camaraderie that continued to grow amongst the students,” Moore said. “They weren’t just on a ‘vacation.’ They were making lifelong memories while performing with one another.

“When singing Stephen Paulus’ ‘The Road Home’ for the final time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the students began to well up with tears. The students’ love and admiration for singing and for one another is what I will take away most from this trip. I cannot wait to continue to offer these types of opportunities to future choir students at HHS.”

Hudsonites continue to display their drive and determination … and athleticism. In addition to our own Ashton Swinford, who defended her title as Cleveland Marathon women’s champion earlier this year, Hudson High graduates and sisters Sara Sheehan (Waters) and Kate Waters recently completed the 2023 Boston Marathon and crossed the finish line together. Next on the Walter sisters’ list of races to compete in is the New York Marathon this November. Well done, ladies, and many more, happy, hard-won miles to you all!

Hudson High graduate sisters Sara Sheehan (Waters) and Kate Waters complete the 2023 Boston Marathon. Photos submitted.

HHS graduate Matt Gentry played in the 2023 Beach U23 World University Championship Trials in Hermosa Beach, California, this summer after he and teammate Nathan Harlan won their game in the quarterfinals. Matt recently completed his redshirt junior year of playing for the Lincoln Memorial University Railspitter’s Men’s Volleyball team. Despite his busy practice schedule, he took out time to cheer on the Hudson boys volleyball team during its spring state championship run. Congrats, Matt, and thanks for your continued support!

Finally, several Special Olympics athletes who represented Hudson in the state games in Columbus recently. Competing and either placing or bringing home medals in the track and field, softball, bocce and bowling events were Nicholas Gosiewski, Brad Bohrer, Joe Korane, Adam Musarro, Nina Ackerman, Justin Marko, Connor Hayslip, Ben Cartwright, Alex Cremer, Emma Harr, Holly Norville, Amy Forde, Nicholas Tomin, Nicole Knoblauch, Gabe Apanius, and Savannah James. Awesome job, each and every one of you!

Bowlers (l-r) Nicole Knoblauch, Holly Norville, Emma Harr and Savannah James medal at the Special Olympics Ohio summer games.

Also many thanks to the coaches, parents and caregivers who support these athletes and help them strive to live according the Special Olympic oath, “Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt!” 

To the rest of us out there, preparing to turn the page on carefree summer days (or at least noting, with mixed feelings, the appearance of “back to school” items at our local, big-box stores), a gentle reminder that it’s not over ‘til it’s over! Make the most of your sunny days, cool nights and time spent with family and friends, everyone.