Driven by the heart and filling the soul, contemporary folk singer-songwriter Loretta Hagen is no stranger to seeing her heartfelt music awarded and acclaimed.
Hagen has received awards and recognition such as winning a JAM Award (Jersey Acoustic Music Awards) for “Top Female Songwriter of the Year”, a nomination for JAM “Album of the Year”, winning the NJ Folk Festival Songwriter Competition, and is a two-time CT Folk Festival Finalist. Performing mainly with her husband Gary Hagen as guitarist, and djembe players Linda Lambiase or Curtis Kretz, she has played across the Northeast and Nashville, sharing the stage with artists like Steve Forbert, Kim Richey, Marshall Crenshaw, and Sloan Wainwright.
After Something More, which was co-produced by Pat McInerney (Nanci Griffith), the 2008 Sundown Till Dawn album captured airplay at radios across the country. The project’s title track is an emotional one for Hagen, written about her mom who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had passed away. Featured in the film 10 Mountains 10 Years, the touching ballad raised awareness for the disease through the portrayed story.
Mud and Stone followed in 2012, consistently obtaining #1 on the Roots Music Report for NJ, as well as hitting #5 Top 50 Folk Albums RMR, and debuting at #10 on Folk DJ Charts. Five years later, the twangy Americana album still received four nominations for the Just Plain Folk Awards.
Taking listeners to places of loss and healing in her 2017 release, Lucky Stars, was a four-year process of taking the experiences of illness, death, and moving on without loved ones into a collection of songs. Centered around the concept of our ‘Lucky Stars’ watching over us, the album marks new beginnings as she sings, “We send up wishes and hope they’ve landed”.
The powerful lyrics, “I am shipwrecked, on an ocean wide/I barely catch my breath, when the winds subside”, open up Hagen’s newest song, “Not Now”. The raw emotion displayed through the effortless acoustics reveal the pain and sorrow from unforeseen circumstances. Setting up for her late 2021 album release, the comforting country folk tune calls on God to dry her tears and help weather the storm.
Having written the song during 2020, Hagen shared, “Each day I would hear news stations report the heartbreaking stories of people alone in hospitals around the world fighting for their lives without a loved one at their side. I can only imagine the terror for them. So many stories of loss: loss of life, loss of jobs, homes, loneliness. Normal life simply gone. But in all of that overwhelming despair and loss, there were also stories of survival”.
With all of the devastation and peeling back of personal layers, communities around the world can relate as they realize they were stronger than they had originally thought. Shifting the darkness to light, Hagen’s songwriting and perspective brings hope for any journey the listener may be on.