Gospel artiste Kerina Hall. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
Kerina Hall is a gospel singer, musician, and arranger. But there is so much more to the woman who grew up in the Edey Village Church of God singing songs of praise, reciting poems and acting in plays on different occasions.
The self-published poet and playwright who has written plays for church, sat down with EASY to share the story of her journey, how she tapped into her talent, broke through the cocoon of shyness to become a soloist and now a motivator with her own YouTube channel.
Sitting in the living room of her Hoyte’s Village, St James home, Kerina recalled that it was in 2000 that she decided to sing solo at the Speightstown Wesleyan Church where her husband, Reverend Floyd Hall, was the pastor.
“I was a bit shy about putting my music out there, but my husband kept saying ‘people need to hear about these songs; you need to do something about these songs’. He would encourage me over and over and I would say ‘not yet, not yet’. He would ask: ‘do you want me to take them to this person?’ And I would say ‘not yet’. Then, in 2008, I decided to do something about it.
“I was having devotions one morning and I felt God was saying to me that I need to do something about these songs. I was reading Exodus 27 but I felt that God really wanted me to do something about these songs and the idea came to have them recorded, to do an album. The name of that album is What Matters Most.
“There’s a song on the album called What Matters Most and that’s where I got the title. I was listening to a Christian rock song and the song had a line about laying down your life and taking up the Cross and I thought to myself that I really what matters most; becoming a Christian and giving your life to God. That’s how the song What Matters Most was born,” Kerina said.
Noting that that original song was a fusion of rock and pop, she said the person who recorded told her it sounded too much like pop music, so it was changed.
“I like rock music,” she said laughing, “not secular rock but Christian rock music. I like to hear the guitars screaming and talking, I like to hear that.”
The five songs on that album she wrote and arranged.
Kerina said she draws inspiration from reading the Bible “especially the Psalms” which she stated “are really poetry”, her husband’s sermons and messages. Something in the sermons or messages resonates with her leading her to say “that sounds as though that can be a song”.
“I get inspired by themes and topics. Recently, we had a prayer breakfast at church True Tabernacle Holiness Church which is located in Bank Hall Cross Road. The person who conceptualised the theme said to me ‘the theme is Lord Save Our Nation’. Sometime after she told me this I started humming a tune and the words came.
“It’s really based on Second Chronicles Chapter 14 and it’s really the exact words to that song I just put a tune to it and added a chorus. On another occasion, I wrote a song for the Women’s Missionary Department of the former church I attended. Their theme was “Women Of Purpose And Passion On The Front Line” and they didn’t tell me to write a song, but I couldn’t help it. I wrote this song called Purpose And Passion,” she said.
When the inspiration hits her, she gets excited and has to get the lyrics or tune down and uses her cell phone to record them, she noted.
Before her songwriting days, Kerina was a poet. She said it was during her last year at the defunct St Gabriel’s Secondary School, she got “a sudden flash of inspiration” and wrote three poems and from then she was writing.
She would write poems for harvests, for people who asked, for Christmas. She has published three books to date: Thorns And Roses, Blossoms, and Bethlehem Revised.
“I’ve always been involved in the arts, in the creative things”, she added.
Her second album Going With Jesus has ten tracks which zero in on the different aspects of Christians’ emotions. The lyrics are about being on the mountaintops and in the valleys and examines the various emotions in the Christian walk.
One of the things that Kerina always tries to do with her songs, is to make the lyrics as realistic as possible, relatable, so listeners can identify with them. She said they are not always soul songs as some of them highlight modern martyrs and the persecution that some Christians face today.
Another thing that she also tries to do with her songs is to make them catchy so they are easy to sing along to, hum and remember. Her poems are also simple.
“I try to be simple all the time because if it’s so heavy people won’t get to love them. My songs are also simple so I can remember them,” she said laughing.
She is no longer writing poetry but concentrates on her music ministry, although if someone asked her to do something for a harvest she would “help out if I can”.
“I’m focused on promoting my CD. I go around to churches and people would speak to me afterwards. The church community is very receptive and that is something that people overlook. Churches are very receptive to people coming and promoting their music.
“People don’t really think about churches, they think about big concerts. Not that there’s anything wrong with big concerts, but the church community is there and it is more intimate. People come and chat with you after the service, so it’s more engaging.”
While she has not had anyone asking for songwriting tips, she has had a few youngsters asking her to teach them to play the keyboard. She noted that she does not like to see the “keyboard idle” and has asked the pastor to allow her to play.
What the multi-talented woman has also done is started a YouTube channel – Kerina Hall – where she shares the “background behind her songs”, how to push pass your fears and accomplish your goals. Her advice to achieve this is, “just do it”.
She has also preached a sermon or two.
“It is not my first love, I leave that to my husband. But I like sharing, I like encouraging people. I started doing a lot more. I talk about my journey, my experiences going around,” she said. (GBM)