Recording artist Kierra “KiKi” Sheard will headline the gospel extravaganza Sunday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m. One of the first events during Homecoming Week at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the event will take place in the J.M. Ross theatre of the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts building. With doors opening at 6:00 p.m., tickets are $10 for general public and free for students with a valid ID.
With a mezzo-soprano range soaring from angelic riffs to deep lows, Sheard is a next-generation member of pioneering inspirational group, the multi-Grammy Award winning, Clark Sisters. Its members include the singer’s three aunts and her mother, Karen Clark Sheard. She’s also the granddaughter of the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the prodigious conductor, arranger, songwriter, singer, instrumentalist and teacher who is roundly credited as one the defining influences in all of Gospel music.
Singing in her father’s church from the age of six, Sheard later appeared on two songs from her mother’s Grammy-nominated 1997 solo debut, Finally Karen. One song, “The Will of God,” earned the then nine-year-old a Stellar Award for Best Children’s Performance.
After honing her skills as a backing vocalist for her mother and the Clark Sisters, Sheard came into her own. The 29-year-old Detroit native gained notoriety out of the box with her 2004 debut album I Owe You. That was followed by 2006’s This Is Me. The Grammy Award nominated sophomore set bowed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums chart. Two years later came Bold Right Life and then 2011’s Free, her first album on the Sheard family’s Karew Records. Hit singles include “You Don’t Know,” “Why Me” and “God in Me.”
“It’s about singing an inspiring song that everyone can listen to,” explains Sheard, “especially
those people who may never step foot in a church. It’s about R&B/hip-hop and gospel beats mixed with Coldplay and other pop/rock sounds—but always with a positive message.”
Sheard delivers that and more on her Stellar Award-nominated fifth album, Graceland (Karew Records), which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s and iTunes’ Gospel Albums charts. Leading off with the exuberant pop-infused single “2nd Win,” the set is now spinning off its second single, the ballad “Flaws,” which provides an introspective about life’s insecurities.
Triggering what is arguably her best and most versatile work to date, Graceland brims with self-introspection and lessons learned as a fearless Sheard bares her soul and shares a revelatory journey that anyone can personally embrace. Her versatility, however, stretches beyond music.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in psychology from Wayne State University, Sheard is currently working on a master’s degree in clinical psychology. A budding entrepreneur as well, she helms the hosiery line Sheers by Sheard (available exclusively at select Walgreens). In addition, plans are currently underway for Kierra to launch Eleven 60, a plus-size clothing line, in 2015.
A self-professed “people person,” Sheard fervently believes in giving back. She’s the founder of BRL (Bold! Right! Life!), a national organization with 15 local chapters dedicated to youth empowerment (www.boldrightlife.org). And Sheard will be sharing her expertise for the second consecutive year as a judge on the eighth season of BET’s popular singing competition Sunday Best.
“Fans have told me they want message-oriented music they can listen to without feeling they have to be at a revival,” says Sheard of her work on Graceland. “Quality, fun music with an inspirational message that you can play at home, in a shop or bang in your car with the windows down … that’s my calling.”
For more information about the gospel extravaganza, call (870) 575-8866.