It’s a remarkable achievement for an artist to have his or her first two albums debut at #1 on the Billboard Gospel charts. Then, when you consider that the individual is also the youngest artist to ever achieve this milestone, it’s easy to conclude that we’re referring to someone very special.
This is the story of Kierra KiKi Sheard, the granddaughter of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the matriarch of Gospel music, and the daughter of Karen Clark Sheard, member of Gospel music’s most acclaimed Sister Act and perhaps Gospel music’s most revered voice.
Kierra’s first album – I Owe You – debuted at #1 from the time it hit the streets back in the summer of 2004. Two years later, KiKi kicks all on-comers to the curb, once again, with another chart-topping release called This Is Me, a self-revealing, musical mosaic of epic proportions that has found a huge audience and a growing listener base. But beyond the success and name recognition, it was important to know who Kierra KiKi Sheard really is. Is she the little girl who can match every run and holler her mother throws her way? Is she the poster girl of the Church of God in Christ? Or is she the product of Detroit’s Gospel scene?
So, BLACKGOSPEL.COM wanted to strip away the hype and hysteria behind the name and focus in on the true Kierra KiKi Sheard, a woman coming into her own as a woman and an artist. Our interview with Kierra revealed a very transparent woman. But refuses to compromise on one thing – her relationship with the Lord.
Christopher Heron: Let’s start our conversation with the new album – This Is Me. Is this the true Kierra KiKi Sheard?
Kierra KiKi Sheard: Oh yes, this is me. I would have the same appreciation for this sound if it was done by any other artist too. This is the kind of music I listen to, this is the music in my CD player. This album is all me. It’s personal.
CH: If this is the real Kierra KiKi Sheard, then who are some of the artists and producers today that are inspiring you and your music?
KKS: Most definitely my family, also Mary Mary, Tye Tribbett, Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell.
CH: When your debut album – I Owe You – was first released a couple of years ago, I’m sure the style and sound of the Urban Contemporary Gospel album came as a bit of surprise to COGIC members, fans of the Clark Sisters and even listeners of Kierra KiKi Sheard who were first introduced to your singing ministry on your mother’s albums, Finally Karen and Second Chance. But tell us in your own words what was the initial reaction to your album.
KKS: Actually, I received a great response to my first album. People weren’t expecting me to be “Little Kiki”. They were expecting a more mature, young adult Kierra on my album. So, I received a very nice response to the album. A lot of individuals have supported me, even individuals you wouldn’t know or expect. I guess growing up in the Church of God in Christ, a lot of people supported me from the church, from beginning to end.
CH: By now, I believe everyone who’s listening to Kierra KiKi Sheard has a better idea of who you are, as an artist. But how would you best describe yourself as an artist to the public?
KKS: I would say I’m shy. I am sometimes outspoken. I’m sometimes loud and ghetto. I love being with my family and friends. And most of all, I love the Lord. And one day, I want to meet Him.
CH: I understand that you wrote one of the songs The Clark Sisters sang for their final recording. How special is it to sing, write or perform as a member of the Clark legacy that was first established by your grandmother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark?
KKS: It’s very special to me because I can say that I grew up around The Clark Sisters and I learned from my grandmother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, which was a wonderful experience. It’s great to have grown up into a young woman and now be able to contribute to The Clark Sisters as an artist and as a writer. It’s really exciting to be a part of anything The Clark Sisters are doing. I’ve always listened to albums recorded by The Clark Sisters. But now, I’ll be able to say, “I wrote a song on The Clark Sisters album.” So, I’m really excited.
CH: You’re now 18 years old and a #1 Chart-topping solo artist in Gospel music. But I’d like to know what are some of the valuable lessons you learned as a child from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, your mother Karen Clark Sheard and your aunts or from watching your family, about being a professional artists and ministering when singing on stage.
KKS: First of all, I learned to always keep God first. I also learned that sometimes, when an artist sings before a large crowd, sometimes they won’t feel you. They’ll just stare. They would encourage me and taught me to just do my thing. My mother would sometimes say to me, “Just go out there and bust them wide open.” That’s something I will always remember my mama telling me.
CH: And finally Kierra, who is your new album – This Is Me – intended for? Is it for the lost? Is it for believers? Is for church-goers or club-hoppers? Who was this album written and produced for?
KKS: It’s for both the new generation and the mature audience. I want to reach those who haven’t been raised in a church. I want to reach those who don’t even know where a church is in their neighborhood, those who don’t have a relationship with Christ. I want them to know that the best thing that could ever happen to them is to have a relationship with Christ. It’s about getting your life together. It’s an album that you can groove to but will also have a message about Jesus Christ and will help you live a Christian life.
For information on Kierra KiKi Sheard, visit her official website atwww.kierrakikisheard.com.