Meet Hannah Riley: A Jersey Girl with Dreams (and a Voice) Too Big for this Town

Hannah RielyHannah Riley Kraft, 21, is just a local Jersey girl who has a voice to be heard.

She is the type of person to sit in her garage, write music, and sing her heart out on a Saturday night rather than go to a party.

“I have been playing piano for as long as I can remember,” Hannah said.

She has been singing and writing her own music for eight years now.

What sparked her interest to take singing seriously was because of her journey at the Performing Arts Academy High School.

The singer’s sister, Kayleigh, 22, said growing up Hannah had always had a unique style.

“I love her music mainly because her lyrics and sounds really mirror her personal style and emotion, which shows a lot about who she is as an artist,” Kayleigh said.

Hannah didn’t really think much of the idea of making her own music until she graduated high school in 2013.

She finally broke out of her musical-theatre shell and realized her passion was in front of her this whole time.

“I was auditioning in NYC for a while for cruise lines and shows. I would get call backs and get far In the audition process, but it wasn’t working out,” Hannah said.

“I sat down one day and really thought about where I wanted to go in life, in terms of music”

She weighed out the options of either using her voice to perform other artist’s lyrics and music or taking a chance on herself playing both roles.

“And I chose me,” Hannah said confidently. “Writing and singing my own music really fuels my soul. Knowing that I can be authentic in my work is everything.” 

Hannah writes lyrics using her senses, recalling experiences, envisioning colors; it all depends on how a note or chord makes her feel.

Some of her biggest influences are Glass Animals, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eillish, Jim Morrison, Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Lorde and The Technicolors.

Her list of musical influences could go on forever, but those are the artists that truly fuel her and inspire her to make “good” music.

“I feel like the popular music out there is ruining any good musician’s reputation,” Hannah explained.

“People consider a song ‘good’ if it has a good beat or auto tune,” she continued.

“If social media can make a dance out of it or it has the same lyrics over and over again, it tends to overpower the struggle musicians like me face every day, just trying to make it in this crazy industry.”

Sammi Yezzo, a junior communication student, said, that Hannah’s voice is so unique and different.

“She’s such a free spirit and her sound comes out so effortlessly,” Sammi said.

“I make music because I want people to feel. I want people to hear a lyric and think ‘I’ve felt that before.’ I make music, because above all, I love it more than anything.”

“I will never give up on my dream. Ever since I have decided to follow my dream and never look back, I have been playing shows in the Asbury Park area.”

“I released my first official compilation of music, my EP ‘Recovery’ and I am in the process of releasing my second one at the end of April.”

Hannah is so excited to be playing at The Stone Pony on April 15, at 7:30 p.m. to give fans a fun experience and a sneak peek at her new music. Tickets are on sale for $10 and are available at the door.

PHOTO COURTESY of Danielle Cannova