The heart of a worshipper is ageless. That’s rarely been more evident than on the debut record by Hannah Kerr. Though only 18-years-old at the time of its release, Kerr has a heart for worship and a gift for writing songs that usher others into God’s presence. With a strong, distinctive voice, Kerr makes a profound impression with her debut single “I Stand Here.”
As the flagship artist for M2T Records, a new Christian label in partnership with Black River Entertainment, Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Miller and Casting Crowns front man Mark Hall, Kerr is an impressive young talent who could find success in any genre, but couldn’t imagine herself anywhere but the church. “Christian music is the perfect way to combine my passions,” Kerr says. “My passion for Christ and my passion for singing can be combined to make a ministry. My goal is not to simply sing and write songs, but to minister to my audience, to relate to them and be someone they can talk to. That’s important to me.”
A native of Buffalo, New York, Kerr was raised in a Christian home where music was a constant. “My parents were worship leaders, so that’s where I get my love for worship,” says Kerr. “I grew up in Buffalo, but we moved to Nashville before my freshman year of high school which was the best and the worst thing. It was hard to leave everything that I’d ever known, but looking back now, that is what really shaped who I am.”
Like all young people, she was also greatly influenced by music. “Casting Crowns was my first concert,” says Kerr, who is now being mentored by the band’s leader Mark Hall. “I grew up listening to them along with Steven Curtis Chapman, Mercy Me, and boy bands like True Vibe. I also listened to my parents, who loved to sing and lead worship. Their worship music has always inspired me. I never imagined myself being an artist, but I always knew that I loved to sing. Watching my parents lead worship was the perfect outpouring of their gift and I think it planted a seed in my heart.”
Kerr’s heart for serving others and her gift as a worship leader blossomed in her home church in Tennessee. “I started leading worship for the student ministry four years ago,” Kerr says of her role at Brentwood Baptist, just south of Nashville. “I knew that I wanted to be involved in worship ministry, but it wasn’t until I actually began leading worship that I realized the calling in my life. I’ve found my place; I’ve found my people. That’s how I felt. God has grown in me a passion for leading worship through allowing me to lead it for the student ministry, the college ministry, the adult ministry, and now touring. This album is a perfect opportunity to not only lead worship in church, but to lead worship for THE church.”
Kerr has a warm, evocative voice that exudes both vulnerability and strength as she explores the complexities of living a faith-filled life. The songs on her debut EP are a powerful collection that deal with a variety of emotions. “It’s been really fun to grow as a writer and as an artist,” Kerr says. “The Lord has given me so much inspiration over the past few years and I simply have to write it. It would be doing a disservice, I think, to the Lord and His faithfulness to not share what He’s done.”
“Shine” has an infectious melody and an uplifting lyric about reveling in who God made you to be. “That was actually the first song that we wrote for this record and the first song I ever wrote with somebody else,” she says of co-writing with her brother Josh. “It was really cool that I got to share that with my brother and that we got to create the song together. It’s definitely a very special one on the album for me.
“Warrior” is an empowering anthem about facing fear and fighting the good fight. It is actually the first song I heard for this album that I didn’t write,” she says. “‘Warrior’ is about standing in the face of fear and saying, ‘I’m not afraid because I’m a warrior.’ It’s about being a defender of one’s faith using the weapon the Lord gives us, His word.”
“Be Still” is a poignant song Kerr wrote for her best friend who was wrestling with her direction after high school. She had hoped to attend college, but didn’t know how she was going to afford to make her dream come true. While praying for her friend, Kerr opened her Bible and was inspired by Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”
“I sent her the song and I didn’t tell her at first that it was about her,” Kerr explains. “She called and said, ‘I know you wrote this about me, and I’m so thankful.’ She was in tears and said, ‘Please tell me that song is on your album because people need to know, like I did, that it’s not in our control and it doesn’t have to be. It’s in His hands.’ ‘Be Still’ is personal, but I feel like it applies to everybody and it’s a message that I need to remind myself of all the time.”
The first single, “I Stand Here,” also carries a message Kerr feels is important to share. “The reason I recorded it is because it ministers to me. It says, ‘I stand here and I’m laying down the fear in me,’” Kerr states. “Fear is something that everybody struggles with. I have fear in my life, but I’m laying it down. I’m not afraid to admit that. ‘I Stand Here’ really sums up my whole album in a way because it’s encouraging and empowering, but it also deals with the real stuff that people go through in life.”
As she takes her music all over the country, Kerr admits she has learned a great deal from both Marks -- her producer Mark Miller and her mentor Mark Hall. “From Mark Hall I learned that ministry is the most important part of being an artist and being a worship leader,” she says. “He shows me in such a concrete way that ministry is the center of Christian music. It’s not just about the music. It’s so much more than that. Mark Miller has taught me that it’s okay to be myself and that’s what people want. He’s been so true to what I want my music to sound like, and he helped me see that being me is exactly who God wants me to be musically.”
Transparency, authenticity and passion are the foundation of Hannah Kerr’s music, and they inform the songs that populate her impressive debut. “I’ve been following the call that Christ has placed on my life,” she says of her burgeoning ministry. “When people listen to this album, I want them to take away that encouragement comes from the Lord. I want to remind them that God is where your worth comes from. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, or any label that may be attached to you. It’s all about the Lord and the fact that His power in you makes everything possible.”
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