To many, a good image on social media is extremely important. Worth is judged by what one does, by how one looks and by the number of likes one receives.
In her recently released EP “Running on Low,” singer-songwriter Estella Kirk seeks to counter this pervasive attitude by being vulnerable and sharing where worth really originates.
Kirk’s songwriting takes inspiration from her experiences — what she goes through as a Christian as well as the struggles she shares in common with other teens.
“I want to be that relatable person they can go to and listen to music and feel like they can relate to someone who is their age and just know that they can be confident in who they are and that their value comes from God, not the world,” said Kirk, who is 17.
“Someone I’m Not,” one of her new singles, directly talks about how social media can make someone feel that they can’t measure up. It is a very personal song, written at a time when Kirk was struggling a lot with that issue.
“I’m tired of trying and tired of fighting to please someone, to be someone I’m not,” Kirk sang before concluding with an emphasis of the need to surrender to Him and His love.
“He’s where we can put our worth,” she said.
Before turning 10 years old, Kirk had already worked as a model and actress. During this time, she also experimented with other activities like dance and soccer to find out what she liked best.
“I was trying to juggle all of the hobbies, I guess you would say, at a young age, and I just really fell in love with singing. I told my mom that I wanted to do just singing and nothing else,” Kirk said.
It turned out she was serious about the idea of pursuing singing. However, even though Kirk grew up in church, she wanted to sing pop music.
“When I was about 13, I felt that God was telling me to go a different direction and to sing His songs instead of doing it for myself,” she said. “That’s when I feel like I really connected with why I’m supposed to be here and my purpose and my self-worth.
“It was through music that I found my love and passion.”
Soon after that time, Kirk recorded her first EP, “Bright Side,” which was released in the early part of 2020.
Her debut single, “Shelter in the Storm,” was especially relevant due to its release coinciding with the early days of the fears and stresses of the pandemic. It received a lot of attention and praise from the Christian music industry and listeners.
“At just 14 years old, Kirk has delivered a product that can stand up next to any of her contemporaries on the Billboard charts,” writes J-P Mauro for Aleteia.org.
It would be easy to think that Kirk’s early success would have been encouraging enough to keep going in the music industry. Instead, the pressure of comparing through social media drove her inward.
She didn’t stop singing, but she stopped sharing her music.
“[I was] feeling low self-esteem and not really knowing where my worth came from. [It was] just feelings that a lot of teens feel with social media and comparing,” Kirk said.
Difficulty connecting with peers due to online school combined with coming down from the high of recording led Kirk into a period of depression.
One track from the latest EP, “Running on Low,” shares how Kirk felt during that time of self-reflection.
“I was walking down this road alone with no direction, no place to call my home. I was lost, afraid, broken, ashamed, until I heard His name. He’s the reason that my heart is full again,” she sings in “Running on Low.”
In the days when “merch” (merchandise) is an integral part of any musician’s wheelhouse, Kirk has a unique story behind the design of some of hers.
She was gifted a necklace with a charm shaped like a key that includes her initials.
“The story behind that is Isaiah 22:22, which talks about how, if it’s His will, He’ll open the door and if it’s not, He’ll close the door,” Kirk said.
Kirk is excited about the doors God already has opened for her and is looking forward to what’s next.
“There’s so many things that I would love to do, to be honest. But really it’s just wherever God wants to take me,” she said.
Kirk has had a great response with the release of these newest songs. She’s had a lot of girls connect with her on Instagram to tell her that the songs have helped them. Many have shared them with friends.
“I know that it was not my words that are helping them. It’s God’s words. I can’t take any credit for that,” she said.
To find out more about Kirk’s music, go to estellakirkmusic.com. She is most active on Instagram and can be found @estellakirkmusic.