The success story of soulful Wisconsin pop stylist Carlie Hanson — who turned 19 in May — was almost literally overnight. Two years ago, the worker at her local LaCrosse McDonald’s posted a video of herself covering Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” to enter an iHeart Radio contest to see the former One Direction singer perform. The next day, a Canadian agent, so stunned by her clip, invited her, and her wary mom, to Toronto to audition for the House of Wolf production company. And Taylor Swift added her tune “Only One” to her Apple Music playlist. “After my first handful of songs, I just continued working with them. It was definitely the right time, the right people. I got sooo lucky,” says Hanson.
A comedian once spoofed McDonald’s management throwing its weight around with, “Listen, buddy, I wear the paper hat around here!” How did you and the paper hats get along? Very good, very good. I’m a good soul. I got along with everyone. I was at McDonald’s for a year, and there were some days I just wanted to break down and cry in front of some nasty customer, [saying things] like “My meal isn’t hot enough!” or “Mine’s not cold enough! Fix it!” But most of the customers were fun, and I was even friends with some, until I was thinking, “Oh, I hope Cheryl shows up today. And I noticed that people would order the same things all the time. This one old lady would always order a small decaf coffee, an apple pie and a vanilla cone, every single day. She sure loved her sugar.
Just throwing this out there: McRib. Pro or con? No. Over it. I actually tried it when I was younger and I never, ever liked it. But truly, I had some good times there, and my favorite part was getting out of there, telling my manager, “I’m off to L.A. now, I’m going to be a singer-songwriter and I‘m going to sign to a major label.” And everyone there rolled their eyes and went, “Sure. Uh-huh. Good luck with that there, Carlie! Chase your dreams!” But now, here I am, out on this huge tour.
You worked the drive-thru, too. Ever spot any celebrities? No. It was LaCrosse, Wisc. There was never anybody famous. But what was funny was, sometimes people would pull through and go, “Hey, wait a minute! Aren’t you that girl who sings?” I would get that once in awhile. So maybe I was the famous one!
IF YOU GO
Bryce Vine, Carlie Hanson
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $23 to $25
Contact: (415) 885-0750, https://slimspresents.com/