Before the Christmas Holidays, Saving Our Daughters’ executive team will be busy collecting the popular Bratz Dolls for their annual fund-raiser to help give smiles to hundreds of little girls in kindergarten and girls battling brain cancer.
The last 2 years, the doll drive began as a partnership between the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children and Iliss Marie, the daughter of Saving Our Daughters founders Curtis & Debbie Benjamin. Iliss, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at the age of 10 and later lost her battle in 2011 wanted to inspire and give relief to other young people with this affliction.
Since 2005, the organization has always enlisted the most popular artist within the entertainment industry, which has donated for dolls across the country and this year, Saving Our Daughters’ will have its first Stellar Award Winning, Gospel artist, Ms. Kierra Sheard that will support this year.
The winning critical acclaim, artist, Kierra had a very a special interest in participating for the doll drive, in memory of the founders, daughter-due to the fact she grew up loving the Bratz doll herself. Kierra’s donation will go towards selected dolls for the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital-where Iliss resided in Atlanta Georgia where she went through her chemo treatments.
Also in 2014 Saving Our Daughters will be working on collaborating on additional national community projects, with Ms. Kierra on empowering youth.
About the Incredible Ms. Kierra Sheard!!
GRAMMY® Award-nominated, multiple GMA Dove Award and Stellar Award-winning recording artist and songwriter, Kierra Sheard, is winning critical acclaim and expanding her fan base with a unique sound that is influencing a new generation of gospel music lovers. She was named the winner of the 2013 Stellar Award’s Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year for her current album, Free. She was also nominated in the Contemporary Artist of the Year category. Free was released on the family’s label, Karew Records (pronounced: Kuh-rue). It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart and has remained in the Top 50 since its release in October 2011. For the first time in her solo recording career, the daughter of Karen Clark Sheard, of the legendary Clark Sisters, and Bishop J. Drew Sheard, senior pastor of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God In Christ in Detroit, Michigan, delivered a live recording. With a fresh anointing and a bold spirit, this 12-track CD is packed with soul stirring emotions and messages of hope that will bless and “free” souls.
Kierra first came to the world’s attention as a nine year old, belting out vocals well beyond her years in a live recording of the hit, “The Will Of God,” which was on her mother’s 1997 solo debut release, Finally Karen. Until that point, Kierra had shown little interest in being a singer, and the family was unaware of her exceptional talent. “I didn’t want to do the song with my mother and she had to make me practice,” Kierra recalls. “I wanted to do nails—acrylic nails. My parents had bought me a nail tech table and all these products because that’s what I was interested in at that time.” However, after her performance with her mother, offers for recording deals started to pour in. By 2003, Kierra had a label deal with EMI Gospel (now Motown Gospel), which propelled her into music stardom—churning out hits that showed her vocal prowess and diversity, such as “You Don’t Know,” “Love Like Crazy,” “Praise Him Now,” and “Invisible.”
Kierra released three chart-topping and award-winning CDs at EMI Gospel. Her first album, I Owe You, was released in 2004, when she was 16 years old. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. Her first single from that album, “You Don’t Know,” charted at #1 and was Billboard‘s 2004 R&B Gospel Single of the Year. The album received a Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award nomination for Urban Album of the Year, and “You Don’t Know” won a GMA Dove Award for Best Recorded Urban Song. The CD also won the Soul Train Award that year for Best Gospel Album, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Album.
Her second CD, This is Me, was released in 2006, and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. The CD won a GMA Dove Award for Best Recorded Urban Gospel Album and Kierra won a Stellar Award for Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year. Kierra received her first GRAMMY® nomination at age 19, when “Why Me,” the single from This Is Me, was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Song. In 2008, Kierra released her third CD, Bold Right Life, which debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. Kierra received her second GRAMMY® nomination when the CD was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album in 2009. Kierra was also nominated for four Stellar Awards for that CD: Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year and Artist of the Year. In addition to the three albums, Kierra released two compilation CDs while at EMI: Just Until…, a collection of remixes (2005), and KiKi’s Mixtape, an EP of her greatest hits (2009).
“EMI gave me a great opportunity and they did an awesome job because they put me on the map,” says Kierra. “I will never forget the individuals who worked with me, who were patient with me. They treated me like family.”
FREE is Kierra’s fourth album, and first CD released on Karew Records. At 26 years old, Kierra has become one of gospel’s most powerful female vocalists, and her maturity and musical skills are on display more prominently than ever before on this CD. FREE was produced and written by Kierra and her brother, producer J Drew Sheard II (JDS), and features an intro by gospel super producer, Donald Lawrence. Kierra exudes both humility and confidence over her new project. “I love every bit of this CD because I had more creative control,” she says. “It’s also interesting to see how God is using this business to bring my brother and me even closer together. He pulled so much out of me that no other producer has done, and that’s what makes it so much more exciting.”
Recorded live in Chicago, with select songs recorded in the studio, FREE is an exploration of musical sounds and styles that creatively express the heart and soul of the next generation of the Clark Family gospel music dynasty. “I’ve always wanted to do a live recording because there’s just a totally different energy that I get from it,” says Kierra. “I am a worshipper, and, surprisingly, I never recorded any worship songs on my previous CD projects. But on this album, you’ll hear my praise and worship songs, as well as other great sounds. And they’re all easy, fun songs to learn. They’ll make you praise God and jump around, skip around and do a cartwheel.”
Kierra digs down into her soul to minister songs that deliver and heal on FREE—from inspiring praise ballads, such as the Chris Tomlin re-make “Indescribable” and the tearful “Desire,” to the rock tinged “War” and swagged out “People,” featuring S.O.M. Other highlights include the fired up “Victory,” featuring James Fortune, and hip hop inspired “Believers Evolved” and “Back 2 Earth.” This outstanding album has something every soul can benefit from, whether they are at a block party, in church, at the club or in their cars.
The cds’ first single, “Mighty,” written by Kierra, is an upbeat, high praise worship song, which has been creating a huge buzz at radio. “‘Mighty’ was originally a studio track,” she says. “But when you hear the way we did it—it has a more throw-your-hands-up kind of vibe…like let’s rock, let’s go.”
Other songs that have a special meaning to Kierra include the mid-tempo and praise-team-ready, “You Are,” which was inspired by Jonathan Nelson and Donnie McClurkin. Then there’s “‘Free,’ which is very personal,” says Kierra. “It comes from a time when my mind was racing—just going crazy. I would think thoughts that I never had before…talk about the mind being a battlefield. But thank God I was prayerful. If you’re not careful, the enemy will use your mind as a vehicle to your heart. If you’re not freeing your mind, it really makes it hard to accomplish goals or be in the will of God or live a life that is stress free.”
Kierra is also excited about the fact that FREE features the BRL Choir from Bold Right Life, the youth organization that she created five years ago to inspire young people to live for Christ and to care about their communities. She started the group in Detroit, where she holds an annual conference at her father’s church. Attendance at the conference has nearly doubled, growing from 800 to more than 1,500 young people who attend each year, and the organization has expanded to include chapters in many states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Illinois to name a few. Bold Right Life, which shares the name of Kierra’s third album, provides encouragement and opportunities for young people to do outreach and ministry at places such as group homes and juvenile centers, and to put on benefit concerts for people and organizations in need of support.
It was important to Kierra that she and her brother completed this album on their own, without their parents’ assistance or influence. “We wanted this to be a surprise to our parents,” says Kierra. “To see how good they felt about what came about made my heart smile. They appreciate the sound that God has given me and my brother, and they say they can see our growth.” Kierra hopes that others who hear this CD will also see her growth and maturity. “My hope for this CD is that it rebrands me as an artist and that people are not just associating me with ‘little KiKi,’ or ‘little Kierra,’ who is out here just because mommy pushed me to do something. I want them to understand that she’s poured into me and she’s instilled ministry into me.”
A self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” Kierra also has always had a very special relationship with her mother. From the first moment they were on stage together, with Karen Clark Sheard both leading her daughter through the song and marveling at her performance, Karen has guided and supported Kierra. She helped to navigate her through high school and college, as Kierra was trying to balance school and a burgeoning career. “My mom is a huge influence on me and my career,” says Kierra. “She is the complete package. I can honestly say that I would not be here singing without her support. Both of my parents have really taught me what it means to be a disciple, which is to do ministry and spread the Gospel and to meet the needs of the people. I want people to see from my records & minitry that I’m a servant of the kingdom, and I want it to bless and change lives.”
Kierra graduated from Wayne State University in May 2011, where she majored in English, with a minor in psychology. Her father was adamant about his children getting a college education. Although he has always been extremely supportive of their music careers, and has helped nurture their musical gifts, he wanted them to also gain knowledge and skills in areas outside of the music business. While at Wayne State, Kierra developed an interest in clinical psychology, and she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in that subject area.
With her parents’ guidance, Kierra has a life that extends beyond her music ministry. A budding actress, she has been featured in the films Preacher’s Kid, and Blessed and Cursed. Kierra’s most recent family project is The Sheards, a new docu-drama series on the BET Networks that profiles her mega-popular Detroit based gospel super star family. The hour long episodes are primarily told through the eyes of Kierra and J. Drew. The series follows them as they navigate family, friends, and faith in a secular world. The hugely successful first season followed Kierra as she sought to find balance between her professional ambition to find more mainstream success, and her loyalty to her brother, who she’s collaborated with on all her previous albums. Kierra also struggles with juggling her new found independence with her strong family bonds, losing weight and love interests. The Sheards debuted April 2013 to historic numbers & aired weekly on Sundays at 8 p.m., ET on BET.
The Sheards is currently in production for it’s 2nd season set to air 2014!
Kierra continues promoting her current CD at venues across the country, an effort that has included a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Early 2013, she was featured as the only female on the very popular United As One Tour with James Fortune, VaShawn Mitchell, and Zacardi Cortez.
Kierra is currently in studio working on her newest CD offering set for 2014 release, sure to be another smash, as she collabs with the incredible talents of: Diane Warren, Baby Face, Harmony Samuels, Israel Haughton, & JDS II to name a few. Kierras’ 2014 new cd recorded for & by Karew Records will also be distributed via the newly formed Motown Gospel.
Creating a new standard in gospel, Kierra Sheard is raising the bar for her family’s label & setting a pace for the rest to follow.
*Kierra Sheards’ #1 hot digital single: ”TRUMPETS BLOW”(from her forthcoming 2014 new release is available NOW @iTunes & @radio!*