Southerland shares musical message

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hannah Southerland hopes what she has is infectious. What Southerland wants to pass on to people she meets is her upbeat attitude and sunny outlook.

And she wants to share it with folks through her music.

“I don’t necessarily call all of my music Christian,” Southerland said. “It just positive country music. As much bad as there is in the world, we don’t need to hear more bad in the music we listen to. I perform music that I hope will inspire people with a positive message or a message of Jesus Christ.”

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Southerland said it is heavenly blessings that have shaped her disposition.

“I’m blessed beyond belief,” Southerland said. “I have a great family, great friends and I know I’m saved by grace by Jesus Christ so nothing else in the world matters.

“If I can make others have that feeling too, then I feel like I’m serving my purpose on earth.”

Southerland, a senior at Mississippi College in Clinton majoring in communication with a minor in psychology, started singing at age 3 and started performing not long after with her family gospel group.

“Before I really event started talking, I was singing,” Southerland said with a laugh. “I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but music just runs in my family. I was probably 6 when I stared singing and playing the tambourine with my dad.”

Southerland is the daughter of Paul and Marlene Southerland. She is a 2007 graduate of Adams County Christian School.

Paul Southerland, pastor at Highland Baptist Church, said it didn’t take long to realize Hannah had “a little something extra” to which crowds were drawn.

“All of my life I’ve been involved in music,” Paul Southerland said. “I realized when Hannah came along and started singing, and I started showing her how to play the piano and guitar that she’s got that factor, the thing that people need.

“God has put a little something extra in Hannah, and we are so proud because in everything she is doing, God has been glorified.”

Growing up, Hannah sang whenever she got the chance in school, at church and at home. But, when she sang, she was singing of other people.

What she wanted to do was write and perform her own songs, but that didn’t come as naturally as her voice did.

“I would try to write songs, but they were just cheesy, corny songs,” she said.

But Hannah wasn’t deterred.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed to the Lord that He would give me the ability to write music,” she said. “I prayed for a long time, and one day I was sitting at the piano in a rehearsal room before a voice lesson (at MC) and I just started singing words I’d never heard before.

“I remember thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I think I’m writing my first song. I think I’m writing a good song.’”

The song “Refuge” encapsulated Hannah feelings of moving from Natchez to MC and the feelings of loneliness and fear typical of a first year of college.

“I felt like was in the dark somewhere and in that song I just cried out,” she said.

Since then, Hannah has drawn inspiration from words and phrases she hears and experiences she’s going through and blessings she has.

Most of the time she writes with her older sister Robin Southerland, Hannah said, “because two heads are better than one.”

“When we come together to write, we play off of each other’s words and finish sentences for each other,” Hannah said. “We were sitting on a balcony in Gulf Shores writing a song, ‘One Heart at a Time,’ and we were just writing words, but all of a sudden we both started humming the exact same tune. It was definitely a God moment.”

Paul Southerland said listening to the words of songs his daughter wrote is a proud time as a father.

“You don’t ever get a second chance to make a first impression,” he said. “When you listen to the words of their songs the message just sticks with you. It is a positive message that could change a person’s life.”

Hannah performs at churches and festivals locally and in the surrounding areas and will be opening for Diamond Rio on Oct. 23 when the band performs at the Vidalia Amphitheater.

She has even recorded a 10-song CD in Nashville.

But she doesn’t necessarily have her eye on any particular big stage.

“When I was growing up I always said I wanted to be a super star and my family always let me dream big,” she said. “Now, I really don’t want to be a super star. If it happens then that’s great, but what I want to do share my music and go places to speak and hopefully inspire people through my positive message.”