Growing up in Arlington, Texas, Hannah Bell struggled with being shy. As she began writing music in middle school, she was able to find her voice. Now in Nashville, Bell has released six songs — all before the age of 20.
“Music has always been a way for me to relate to people and to feel like I’m understood.” You sang songs on the playground at recess as a kindergartener. How has singing helped you overcome shyness?
When I was young, I was shy to the point that I thought I had social anxiety. I knew that one of the ways to conquer my shyness was to just go way out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. Even talking about what I love to do, such as singing, was a way for me to be more comfortable in a conversation. Singing helped me in more ways than just getting in front of a crowd and overcoming that shyness, even just talking about it with people would make me feel more at ease.
You began writing songs in middle school, sharing them with family and on any stage you could. Your hometown has many country music venues, including Arlington Backyard, The Grease Monkey Burger Shop, Stagecoach Ballroom. Can you describe what it was like to perform on stage the first time?
The first time I performed on stage was at my fifth-grade talent show. I remember being incredibly nervous, but I was still really excited. Not too many people knew I could sing at that point, so it felt like a big step for me to go in front of hundreds of people and show them that. Even after my first time performing, I would get nervous. It wasn’t until around the age of 17, so many, many performances later, that I felt confident on stage.
After multiple trips to Nashville, you knew it was only time until you moved to Music City to officially begin your music career. You met mentor Renee Martin there, and this connection has helped you establish yourself in the community. How did you meet Renee?
I met Renee before I even officially moved to Nashville. I think I was 14 years old, and the one person I knew in Nashville introduced me to her, and I guess Renee saw something special in me because she was confident that I should make the move to Nashville. We wrote most of my first self-titled EP together, which I released about 6 months after being in town. It can be overwhelming moving to a new city at such a young age, so I’m lucky that I had someone like her who was so supportive and could guide me through Nashville.
Within six months of moving to Nashville at age 15, you released a self-titled EP, including “Your Loss,” “Good Ole Everyday Joe,” “I Love a Rainy Day,” “A Chain Reaction,” and “Waste Your Time.”
“Skin” followed, a song about learning to love ourselves for the person we truly are and not conform to the person that society wants us to become. What are some of the best songwriting tips that other artists have shared with you?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten was to not force anything. Songwriting is supposed to be natural, and if it doesn’t feel natural and authentic during the process, people are going to be able to tell. Being true to who you and your story when writing songs is very important.
Growing up listening to every genre has impacted everything about me. I know it wasn’t easy for each of those artists to get where they are today, so it’s kind of a reminder to keep creating no matter what. I see songs as art, and the fact that those artists are so confident that they never gave up, helps me know that if I want something, I can’t give up.
Studying at Belmont University, majoring in Music Business and Audio Engineering Technology. Your goal is to be able to self-advocate with the industry and produce your own music. How do you see the music industry rebounding from the pandemic restrictions?
I see the industry coming back from the pandemic very slowly. Live music is one of my favorite things in the world, so you have no idea how much I want that to come back! As we get the vaccine, things should start looking up from there. Also, in the music industry, you have to be able to go with change and adapt quickly, which is what every musician is doing right now.
“Sometimes the best way to express an emotion that I’ve had bottled up for a while, is to write about it.” You describe “Get Rid of It” (co-written with Craig Lackey and Larry Vail) as “one of the most natural songs I’ve written.” How was this songwriting process different from others?
Craig, Larry, and I started writing “Get Rid of It” after we had just finished one song we had been working on for 3 hours. It was Craig’s idea to just go ahead and write the song since we still had some time left, and then “Get Rid of It” was done in about an hour. Songs can take hours, weeks, or months to write, and we wrote the majority of this song in an hour. When a song works, it just works, and that’s what happened with “Get Rid of It.”
You’ll be releasing two more singles soon. Will you be producing them?
Although it would have been so cool if I produced the next couple songs, I just left the producing to Brad Hill! He is one of the most talented people I know, and I completely trust him with my songs. I really love producing though, so I’m sure I’ll producing some of my future songs!
I grew up in Arlington, Texas and have been drawn to music ever since I was in Kindergarten, singing songs on the…