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Grantham’s Holly Humberstone reflects on growing up in a ‘small town’ and how music is her ‘comfort zone’

Award-winning Holly Humberstone was always surrounded by music when she grew up in our area – but shyness meant she never knew she was on the path to stardom.

As part of the UK leg of her European tour, Holly heads to Lincoln’s Engine Shed on Sunday (March 10) – which was also the setting for her first ever gig – and ahead of her ‘homecoming’ performance she reflected on her formative years in Grantham and how it feels to showcase her debut album to the world.

Growing up in the Belvoir Estate with her parents and three sisters, there were ‘always different kinds of music’ playing in the Humberstone household.

Holly Humberstone, a former Kesteven and Grantham Girls school pupil. Photo: Chuff Media.
Holly Humberstone, a former Kesteven and Grantham Girls school pupil. Photo: Chuff Media.

“My mum loved playing the cello and piano, and my dad was a big poetry collector,” said Holly, a former Kesteven and Grantham Girls School pupil.

However, she never thought a career in music would be in her future.

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She added: “Grantham is not exactly known for being a music hub and I never really thought it was going to be a career path for me.

“At school I was a bit of an average student, but I’d go home and would just want to write songs.

Holly is 'really excited to perform and play live'. Photo: Chuff Media.
Holly is 'really excited to perform and play live'. Photo: Chuff Media.

“It was something I really loved to do and it was my little safe space, a way to work through all of my feelings and everything changing in my life.

“It was the only thing I was ever really passionate about.”

The 24-year-old singer also learned to play instruments during her musical upbringing.

“I played the violin reluctantly when I was younger and I played the piano, but I never really took to it well.

Holly Humberstone, from Grantham, released her debut album 'Paint My Bedroom Black' in October last year. Photo: Chuff Media
Holly Humberstone, from Grantham, released her debut album 'Paint My Bedroom Black' in October last year. Photo: Chuff Media

“I also played in the Lincolnshire Youth Symphony Orchestra, but it was hard for me to get joy out of it.

“The joy for me in a job is getting to create and write lyrics and that is what I really connected to.

“So, I did a bit of that – but I felt too shy. I was quite afraid to put myself out there for quite some time.”

Holly started to work on demos and they eventually were played on BBC Introducing East Midlands.

This was then picked up by BBC Radio One and Holly’s journey towards music’s top table really kickstarted.

With her career still in its infancy, she has already achieved so much after winning the BRITs Rising Star Award in 2022 – performing at Glastonbury and working along stars such as Olivia Rodrigo, Sam Fender and The 1975’s Matt Healy. Now, with a big tour under way, rave reviews in her back pocket and a new EP to come, the future looks bright for the Ivor Novello nominated singer.

“Since I’ve been able to tour and write an album, there’s so many parts to the job I realised that I love,” said Holly.

“I didn’t realise before but performing has become one of my favourite things.

“I find it hard to express how I feel on a day-to-day basis and I find it hard to journal.

“But being in the studio is like my safe little comfort zone. I can say anything and I don’t feel judged.

“I tend to write about stuff that everybody is feeling and what everybody’s going through.

“I feel like I’m writing about changes that a normal 24-year-old is feeling.

“I tend to write about the people around me and my emotions. I never really expected so many people to connect with it.

“I’m just an average 24-year-old, I just happen to really love music and it’s my way of expressing myself.”

Holly Humberstone. Photo: Chuff Media
Holly Humberstone. Photo: Chuff Media

Last October, she released her debut album ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’ – with songs described as ‘bright, upbeat and radio-ready’ in a glowing Rolling Stone review – and has since been performing it on her 20-date tour.

She has just got back from Continental Europe ahead of the UK leg.

“It’s been really amazing,” said Holly.

“I’ve been touring for quite a long time now, so I feel sort of like a well-oiled machine.

“I have a really great band and I’m really enjoying a different set now.

“I’ve just been really excited to perform and play live and it’s nice to see how different songs are going down.”

The Engine Shed in Lincoln was where Holly made her performing debut – but it’ll be even more special, with her friends and grandmother going to see her perform.

Although she never thought she would gain the success she has, Holly encouraged other young performers to follow their dreams.

“Being from a small town like Grantham, you don’t realise that anything is possible and you should stick at it,” she said.

“I would say listen to as much music as possible, like with my parents, I was really lucky because they had such a broad music taste, so I got introduced to so much.

“I think just try and broaden your horizons and listen to as much as you can, then just keep writing.

“You don’t have to write a great song every day, I definitely don’t.

“Just keep writing, stick to it, trust yourself and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”

Alongside her tour, Holly is also releasing her EP ‘Work in Progress’ next Friday (March 15).

The four-track EP includes singles Dive, Work in Progress, Down Swinging and Easy Tiger.

Are you going to see Holly’s gig? Let us know in the comments below...

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