Monday, July 03, 2006
Growin' Up: Interview with Kierra "KiKi" Sheard
By LaTonya Taylor
The last two years involved a lot of big changes for gospel's Kierra "KiKi" Sheard. She finished high school, started college, and enjoyed an unusual level of acclaim for her debut album, I Owe You, including both Stellar and Dove Awards. Now, with her latest release, This Is Me, Sheard makes a musical move even more deeply into the R&B sounds she loves. The daughter of Karen Clark Sheard, "KiKi" spoke with me about the changes in her life and how she's dealing with them—and with the folks who are apparently jealous about her rapid rise to stardom.
Let's start by looking back a little bit. It's been two years since the release of I Owe You. How would you say you've grown since then?
Kierra "KiKi" Sheard: I think I've grown both in a natural and a spiritual sense over the last couple of years. I've started to make a lot of my own decisions, and to reflect on those decisions and learn from them. Of course, my parents are still around, and they will still pop me upside the head if they think I'm out of line (chuckling). But I'm learning people, and learning life, and starting to handle travel details and things like that on my own.
Spiritually, I've been seeking God, not because Mommy and Daddy told me to, but because I know that it's good for me, and I want to be closer to him. I'm also growing in ministry. I'm learning how to not just sing, but actually to minister. Sometimes people come up to me and say they were facing difficult situations, but felt like I was able to speak to them, without even knowing their business.
What's the difference between "just singing" and ministering?
Sheard: When you're just singing you're basically just entertaining people, and showing them people what you can do. When you're ministering, you are spreading the gospel, and letting the Lord use you, and letting his will be done. You're helping to save souls, and helping people realize that it's important to get close to Jesus. You really have to be prayed up, and really have to be focused and know that you have a responsibility.
You've grown up in a well-known gospel family, and of course sang with your mom as a child on her album, Finally Karen. But you've really become part of the industry on your own terms over the last couple of years. Has anything taken you by surprise about being in the gospel music industry?
Sheard: I've been surprised as I see what God is doing through me even though I'm young. I've enjoyed being nominated for and winning awards. And it's very fun to be able to be on the same stage with music artists that I've admired through the years—people like Angela Spivey, Donald Lawrence, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, the Winans, people like that. It's just a blessing to be able to work with people that I've gained knowledge from.
You started college since your last album came out. You're a fairly well-known person, though. Do you feel like you're having a regular college experience?
Sheard: Definitely. I'm studying entertainment law, and it's been a pretty regular experience. Sometimes people do recognize me and run over and want to talk, but I don't mind that, because I appreciate my fans.
Talk about one of the songs that's most meaningful to you from This Is Me.
Sheard: Well, I sang every last song on this record from the bottom of my heart, and I wrote several. But one of my favorites, a song that means an absolute lot to me, is "Hear This." That's one of the ones I wrote, and it's my testimony. I wrote it when I was just so deep in sin at one point, and I felt like the Lord didn't want to hear my confession, because I wasn't making any progress. I felt like, "You probably don't want to hear me, since I do this over and over again." But I knew that without Jesus Christ in my life, I would definitely be somewhere lost and not in my right mind. So the song basically says Lord, please hear my cry.
Let's talk about "Have What You Want." It seems like that song deals with people discouraging you. Have you faced people knocking you or hatin' on you?
Sheard: Most definitely, a lot of people. I think when God is opening doors for you and taking you to another level, a lot of people don't want to be left behind. It can be hard to figure out who your true friends are. Some people may not think you're worthy of having a position or the opportunities you may have. It feels like, you know, I'm going through heartache and pain because these people aren't liking me. Sometimes the Enemy will use people to distract you, hate you or break you down. That can make you feel hopeless, but this song says to do your thing and be encouraged.
Are people saying unkind things to you? Or is it more like old friends saying, "Who does she think she is?"
Sheard: Those are some things that may have been said to me, or behind my back. I've had to figure out who my friends are. But when you have an anointing on your life, the Enemy will use loved ones to distract you and break you down—and they may not even realize it, because they may not be saved or have that discernment of spirit. But it's just something we have to pray about, and stay prayed up.