In the three years since her debut release Overflow, singer/songwriter Hannah Kerr has walked through a formative season, navigating college and young adulthood and the challenges that coincide with figuring out who you really are. The road has not always been easy, but on the other side, Hannah seems to have found her voice. Now, set to release a new EP entitled Listen More in September with a self-titled album to follow, fans and listeners will be let in on what Hannah has been learning about herself and about God.
“I feel like God really grew me so much as a human being, not just as an artist,” says Hannah, reflecting on the last four years she spent at Belmont University where she received a degree in Christian Leadership in May. “I understood more about Him, I understood more about myself and went deeper into my faith in a way that I hadn’t before.”
Overflow, which Hannah released when she was just 19 years old, was a strong debut, including radio hits like “Warrior” and ASCAP Christian Award-winning “Your Love Defends Me,” co-written with Matt Maher. With the successful release of her Christmas album soon after, you got the sense that Hannah Kerr was not an up-and-coming artist, but rather an artist who had already up-and-come. But Hannah had more growing to do—a process she chronicled through her songwriting. The result is an EP that is genuine, honest and vulnerable with a new, fresh sound that’s a little more pop, a little more worship, a little more Hannah.
“I feel like I know what I want to sound like, who I am as an artist, and I’m excited to share that with people,” says Hannah.
This confidence in her voice is a result of challenges—both good and bad—that Hannah has faced over the last few years, which forced her to assume a new posture when writing this album. If Overflow came from a place of letting God pour into her and her heart overflowing in worship, Listen More has come from a stiller and quieter place in which Hannah said, “I’m going to just sit here for a minute and let God speak to me, and then I’m going to speak from that place of listening, rather than just speaking.”
As the title track’s bridge proclaims, I know I’ll find what I’m looking for / If I just stop talking and listen more.
Hannah explains she selected “Listen More,” which she co-wrote with Matt Hammitt and Riley Friesen, as the title track “because I think each one of these songs comes from that process of listening...each song comes from that posture.”
The EP’s first single, “Split the Sea,” was written two years ago at a time when what Hannah needed to listen to was a promise from God—that He can still split the sea, as He did when the Israelites fled Egypt.
Going through a time of anxiety, doubt and health problems, Hannah found herself looking out on uncertain waters: “For the first time in my life I was asking pretty big questions like, who am I? What am I supposed to do? Who is God to me?” Hannah recalls. When she walked into the writing room with co-writers Jeff Pardo and Blake NeeSmith, she said, “What I really need to know today is that God can still split the sea. I need to be reminded that He’s the same God regardless of if my circumstances change.”
From that place, they wrote a declarative and powerful chorus: It may look impossible / But You’re the God of miracles / You have always made a way for me / You can still split the sea.
“I had to sing it before I could really own it,” says Hannah, “But now after coming out of that season and being reminded continually of God’s kindness and His power and His steadfastness, I can look at that and say that declaration led me into the belief...’Split the Sea’ was a declaration over my own life for two years.”
Each song on the EP and upcoming album feels deeply personal to Hannah. As she says, “Each song is kind of a window into a different area of my heart or my life”—a life that isn’t always perfect and, she says, isn’t supposed to be: “We all are complex people. I’m not just ‘confident Hannah’ and I’m not just ‘insecure Hannah,’ but both of those parts of me are coming into this project, and I think that’s exactly how God made me to be.”
It’s for this reason that “In the Meantime,” the third song on the EP, might be Hannah’s favorite. A softer and more intimate track, the chorus beautifully expresses the tension of the in-between seasons of life: In between receiving / Before I know the answer / Before I see the reason / You’re moving in the meantime.
“I’m not fixed yet,” says Hannah. “My life isn’t perfect yet, but in the meantime, God is still moving, and I still trust Him.”
Hannah says she’s already received messages from listeners thanking her for being so honest in this song, but she is quick to point out where her willingness to be honest and vulnerable comes from.
“That vulnerability comes with being more confident in who I am and being more confident in who God is,” says Hannah, “that God can handle the messy parts of me, and God can handle all of me. I don’t just have to show Him the best parts or the pretty parts, but I can show Him everything.”
This honesty and vulnerability made for an organic creative process in writing and producing Listen More. With the support of her label, Black River Christian, and working with seasoned producers Mark Miller, who also produced Overflow, and Riley Friesen (Jen Ledger, FamilyForce5, Building429, Group1Crew), Hannah is confident in the unique sound they’ve produced.
“It’s just been a really cool process of all of us working together to find what sounds right for me and not trying to fit into the mold,” she says. Instead of asking, what will be a hit?, Hannah says they focused on fighting for “the right song and the right message.”
This sentiment is at the heart of everything Hannah does.
“At the end of the day, this really is a ministry,” she says. “I’m not trying to just throw music at people and hope it sticks. I really want this to be something that sparks conversation and will let people know that I’m willing to talk about the things that I’ve been through, and I want to hear what they’ve been through.”
Hannah is about to have an opportunity to hear more from her listeners when she hits the road this fall with Jordan Feliz on The Faith Tour. It won’t be Hannah’s first major tour, but it will be her first time on the road not juggling being both a full-time student and full-time artist.
“For so long I’ve been feeling kind of torn between two places, feeling like I should be in class if I’m on tour, or feeling like I should be on tour if I’m in class,” says Hannah. “For the first time, I feel like I’m supposed to be where I am.”
Being where she is and growing into who she is, the release of Listen More will reintroduce Hannah as an artist who has grown and who has rooted more deeply into her sound, her voice and her purpose. It is truly a new chapter for Hannah as an artist and as a person, and now listeners will get to come on the journey where, in her words, she is “figuring out who God is, and in the process, really figuring out who I am.”