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Powerfully vulnerable: Kierra Sheard's introspective journey to 'Graceland'

Kierra Sheard, Graceland

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Changing the game, Kierra Sheard living her life and taking the Gospel to the unchurched. "Graceland" reveals a deeper look into Kierra's soul. Mainstream, urban gospel, contemporary are all labels that could definitely fit the description of her new album. Motown Gospel/Karew Records artist Kierra Sheard speaks about her maturation in a candid interview Wednesday, July 23, just a couple days after the national release of her new project "Graceland".

Powerfully vulnerable: Kierra Sheard's introspective journey to 'Graceland' [photos courtesy of Kierra Sheard/Karew Records/Motown Gospel; used with permission]
Powerfully vulnerable: Kierra Sheard's introspective journey to 'Graceland' [photos courtesy of Kierra Sheard/Karew Records/Motown Gospel; used with permission]
Kierra Sheard, Karew Records, Motown Gospel, Graceland
Powerfully vulnerable: Kierra Sheard's introspective journey to 'Graceland' [photo courtesy of Kierra Sheard/Karew Records/Motown Gospel; used with permission]
Powerfully vulnerable: Kierra Sheard's introspective journey to 'Graceland' [photo courtesy of Kierra Sheard/Karew Records/Motown Gospel; used with permission]
Kierra Sheard, Karew Records, Motown Gospel, Graceland, 2nd Win

In the old testament Bible days, Moses and the Israelites fled from captivity in Egypt under the harsh rule of Pharoah to Canaan Land. The journey should have only taken 11 days, however because of unbelief the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. As the story goes on, two men out of thousands entered into Canaan. After surviving the escape from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, 40 years in the wilderness and finally in Canaan, the two remaining Israelites were commanded to slay the inhabitants of the land and conqueror it. In other words, even though a person may come out of various entanglements of life to arrive at a relatively peaceful and prosperous state, there is still more territory to claim and to conquer. There are no days off. Neither can you call in sick. God has promised everyone an "exceedingly abundant" life, however we must put forth effort to obtain and maintain it.

This could in some regards be equated to Kierra's introspection. Look at it this way, not from the world or "sin", but from the prisons we may find ourselves in due to upbringing, unrealistic expectations, relationships, failures, self-deprecation and any other vices that keep you from being who God called you to be. Kierra Sheard's evolution, to the woman she is today, set her on the path to "Graceland".

The release of her single "2nd Win", put everyone on notice. This is not the "lil KiKi" you were expecting. The lyrics co-written by her and Justin Brooks, speak volumes. Kierra and Justin put their foot on the pulse of what slows many people down from succeeding in life when they penned the second verse, "I know you can't believe what they have told you. They using words as rocks to try and stone you. They can't control your mind, they don't own you. You got to keep the faith like you're supposed to."

Kierra explained what that verse meant to her. "Growing up, you know, as a PK [Preacher's Kid]. And you know, kind of being the...everybody's young princess...even from the church, from my family, to Gospel music. You have expectations ummm...and they're high. People expect highly of you. And so you kind of find yourself living to fulfill their expectations rather than living to fulfill your purpose. And so after awhile you find yourself seeking validation from people. And so... After a while, as I started growing into myself and knowing who I am and what I'm here for and exactly being comfortable in my skin, I found myself not needing validation from people. And so when they would try to validate me with their words...without me...kind of thinking that I was naive, after a while I kind of had to try to correct them and tell them that... 'Hey, I'm not a slave of what you think and I'm not a slave of your words.'

And a lot of people thought 'Oh, this is who you should marry. That's who should marry. This is what you should do. This is what you're gonna do.' And little do we know, we start trying to fulfill what somebody else has said that we're supposed to do. And we become slaves to their words. So...that's why I said this part have to be in there. Because if we aren't careful we will become a slave to people unknowingly...or uh, unintentionally...if we're not careful. So it's so important that we don't let people play with words on our minds. Ummm...so that's why I wanted to make sure that that was in there. Because if we aren't careful we'll find ourselves depressed...because we're not meeting the expectations that people, you know, have of us. So, it was personal. This whole record is personal for me."

Wow. Kierra's tone and the raw content of this album will make you cut a side-eye to say "Come again?". The emotions expressed through the lyrics convey Kierra's growth and transparency. Her vocals have always been larger than life and she has strove to be a role model to other young people. However what most people wouldn't believe that she is a homebody, who likes to get out and about sometimes. She's silly and sensitive. Who would've even known that she did nails and styled hair? She's a "Daddy's and Nana's girl". She's very shy and private. These characteristics have culminated into a beautiful full-figured young woman that is not ashamed of her God.

Being unashamed and courageous about her faith, Kierra was still nervous about the new album because her last project "Free" was more church-driven and "Graceland" is definitely urban and broad. Speaking with her father, Bishop J. Drew Sheard, Sr. about her concerns he mentioned, "To catch some fish, you have to put some bait out there." If soaring to the top of the Gospel music charts isn't evidence of a great "catch" then apparently there are no fish in the pond. Seriously, "Graceland" was meant to capture the hearts of young people with its uptempo-bass thumping-guitar screaming riffs. While they're bobbing their heads, they're receiving a word to convict their souls.

Through the tests and trials of life, Kierra Sheard has used those circumstances to speak to the youth about the things they encounter on a daily bases. In the upcoming season of "The Sheards", you'll see Kierra address her insecurities by making the decision to have surgical procedures. Resolving body image issues can be a daunting task. Everyday we're bombarded with skinny models on television and magazine covers. Living in a world that will judge you solely based off of your appearance can have a lasting effect on the psych of impressionable young ladies and men. Know that there is support. Confide in those who have your well-being in mind to help you navigate the pressures of life.

In the multitude of counselors there is safety, according to the Bible. Kierra advises that you have to make peace with your decisions. And on the subject of love, she had much to say. Growth in knowing who Kierra Sheard is and is not, she decided that who people thought she should marry wasn't her concern. Her candid viewpoint on loving who she ultimately wants, freed her to allow God to take his rightful place. God is love. People have prophesied publicly of her marrying whomever and turned prophesying into psychic reading. Kierra has made it very clear that she is the one who will make that determination when the time comes.

Living life in the limelight is not all of what it's cracked up to be. If God has called you to minister in any capacity, he will equip you with the necessary grace. Yes, there will still be days when you are unsure, feel insecure and/or incompetent, but one thing is certain that if God is for you, who can be against you? If you have not downloaded your digital copy of Motown Gospel/Karew Records artist Kierra Sheard's new album "Graceland", do it today on iTunes and other online music sites or go to your local music outlet to purchase a physical copy.