Songwriter Profile With Happie Hoffman

Divine Sound

Creating music from an early age, and training as a teenage youth leader in Memphis, Happie Hoffman always felt music to be a divinely-guided experience. “Music became a spiritual outlet and there’s very little distinction emotionally [between] singing psalms from the Jewish texts or singing songs that I wrote,” shares Hoffman. “The intention and meaning of course is very different, but it always feels like a prayer from the heart.”

An emotional connection to fans has built momentum. “My dad has more integrity than anyone I know and isn’t afraid to show his emotions. I learned to be honest and vulnerable from him,” she shares, adding that watching her parents’ relationship and open communication was very special. “When I sing my heart out in these vulnerable songs, people have permission to feel and to emote,” she says. “That always [feels] like it's worth it, even though it can be hard to put my heart out on the table.”

Pulled into a workshop from a school hallway, Hoffman began adding melodies with feeling and resonance to support prayer texts. By her early 20s, was playing music for church retreats 25 weekends a year while on break from music studies at Indiana University.

“Helping give teens permission to sing and feel [and] showing them that music can be an entry point to community” made work meaningful. Becoming a professional musician through word of mouth, running a growing business from her laptop, “I was following my passion and saying yes to things that lit me up,” she reveals. “It's led me to a life that I am so grateful for, being a musician.” 

Touring internationally for six years as part of indie-folk duo Eric & Happie, playing love songs and modern versions of traditional Jewish music (2016’s It’s Yours debuted at No. 11 on iTunes) also led to a romantic union. When the relationship ended, it brought a creative shift with solo debut Heartbreak Season (2022), under the moniker HAPPIE.

“It was really important to me to write that music,” admits Hoffman. “After we separated, I started writing about how I was feeling, being honest with myself about what it means to be in heartbreak, in a season of being single and looking for love that is that caliber, that feels ancient and cosmic.” Eric Hunker released Beautiful Ending, which Hoffman sang on. “[It] was a very hard day in the studio, but so worth it for the art that came from that too,” Hoffman confesses. “I’m so grateful for the love, support, and respect in that relationship,” she says. “I wouldn't give it up for the world—it's spiritual.”  

Hoffman’s process usually starts with melody; the rest comes from journaling and writing lines (frequently on plane rides). “I love it when the melody lifts you up [or] breaks your heart. When the words and the melody can do that together, that is an incredible song,” she says.

 Having played shows in Auschwitz and other intensely emotional sites, Hoffman believes that, “the more we realize how precious each moment is, the more we appreciate it, [and] the more we live fully present to all the gifts in our lives, especially the relationships and the moments that we have with loved ones and friends. It’s knowing that this specific moment Is everything.”

“I feel like it's my job to feel and to express and to be a vessel,” concludes Hoffman. “My goal is to help people access emotions.” 

In addition to working with youth and founding two song leader training conferences, Hoffman’s performances include the International Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony at Auschwitz, AIPAC, the United Nations, SXSW, Sundance Film Festival, and the main stage at Austin City Limits. Latest releases include “Shooting Star” and “Real Love,” with an EP to follow later this Summer.

Contact Jon Bleicher, [email protected]

Experience Happie Hoffman at happiehoffman.com