Meet Musician Senie Hunt

Adopted at the height of the brutal blood diamond-fueled civil war in Sierra Leone, Senie Hunt was transported from a theater of horrors to the placid fields of New Hampshire, a journey of contrasts. Hunt has used the bucolic peace of our state to heal — he also used it to develop his music. Self-taught, he plays percussive guitar, a style that incorporates rhythms formed from tapping the hollow body of the instrument while simultaneously picking its strings. As his star rises and shines here, Hunt is playing all over to growing crowds, finding the applause and recognition he deserves. Quite the ride.

Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • My very first instrument when I was living in the orphanage in Sierra Leone was the djembe ­— a traditional West African hand drum made by pulling goat skin over hollowed out, hourglass-shaped wood.
  • Music played a big part in helping me shift my focus away from the sounds of the combat.
  • The blood diamond wars had such a devastating effect on the population. For me as a child and many others, it meant the threat of “recruitment” into the conflict.
  • I was about 4 years old when my twin sister and I fled the orphanage. We made most of the journey to the refugee camps in Ghana on foot through the mountains to remain out of sight of the military and rebel troops.
  • When I met my parents and my older adoptive sister for the first time at the airport, I had felt a rush of joy, relief and excitement; this was something that was really happening. I had made it with my twin sister into the arms of a family — my family.
  • I had been terrified of what lay ahead of us, and what it meant to leave Sierra Leone. Most of these feelings had been hidden behind the complete and utter fascination I had when seeing an airplane for the first time.
  • When my adoptive family brought me to my new home in Bradford, I was overjoyed by the farm animals that filled the pasture on the hilltop of their home.
  • I remember the first time I saw snow I had thought that the clouds were literally falling to the ground. I always thought clouds would be warm, soft and fluffy, so imagine my surprise when I took my first dive into a snowbank.
  • I am hoping to use my music as a way of getting back to Sierra Leone to meet my family, and let them know that despite all the chaos in our lives, that we are healthy and doing what we love.
  • I would like to do what I can to help out the community that my family lives in, starting by performing a concert to show them that all we have been through was worth it to land us in a life that allowed us to follow our dreams.

After developing his sound, Senie Hunt’s first official gig was at The Local in Warner just five years ago. His “local” fame grew quickly, and fans now seek out his concerts and helped him raise $9,000 to crowdfund his first CD, “Song Bird.” His twin sister painted the cover image and he says the entire album was “inspired by the idea that nature will continue to be what it is. It expresses the importance of letting things find their way naturally.”

Thanks to the UNH Organic Dairy Farm in Lee and to manager Ryan Courtright for the use of their talented cows, and for the loan of his boys Logan and Luke and student Roger Lawrence to wrangle the beasts for the shoot.

Categories: Music & Movies, People, Q&A