Gospel’s Sweetheart Kierra Sheard Talks Motherhood, Sisterhood and New Children’s Book

‘All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be…’ (Psalm 139:16b NIV) springs to mind whenever you think of gospel sweetheart Kierra Sheard. Granddaughter of gospel’s legendary female choir director, the late Dr Mattie Moss Clark, and daughter of the legendary Karen Clark Sheard, Kierra was destined for gospel music greatness.

The gospel music world fell in love with the fresh-faced little beauty, often seen gracing the stage alongside her mother, powerhouse soprano Karen Clark. Kierra’s highly anticipated debut album shot to the top of Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart in 2004, making her the first new artist to do so. The singer made Billboard headlines again in 2020, when she unseated Kanye West from his No 1 position on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart, abruptly bringing his six-month reign to a grinding halt with her sixth album, Kierra.

With a captivating voice that arrests the attention of any listener, Kierra possesses the unique ability to ‘take her audience to church’, whether she’s performing at the White House or at a mainstream awards event. Not one to rest on her laurels, the multi-award-winning singer has added entrepreneur, actress and author to her list of accomplishments. Kierra took time out to talk with Akosua DF about motherhood, sisterhood, and her new kid’s book, Kiki Finds Her Voice.

Akosua DF (ADF): You’ve grown up right before our eyes, so it’s surreal to watch you navigate motherhood. How are you finding it? What’s the one thing that’s surprised you most about yourself since becoming a mum?
Kierra Sheard (KS): Motherhood is amazing. I’m taking it one step at a time… Staying prayerful. I have literally been praying and asking the Lord to anoint me to be how my mother has been to me, what my parents have been to me. I want my daughter to have the kind of relationship I have with my parents. I’ve been asking my parents questions as I go along, and then just surrounding myself with a village of mothers I trust. I’ve learnt a lot about myself in this season, but I think one of the things I’ve realised is that I’ve not trusted myself enough in the past. This season is teaching me to embrace who I am and who God has called me to be as a woman. I recently read a quote which said ‘…. not only is the baby born but the mother and the father are born, too.’  Just seeing who God has called my husband and me to be for this brilliant little baby is just blessing me. Oooh, I’ve gotta say that the poopy diapers have been an interesting surprise! [laughs]          

ADF: You have a new kids’ book out, Kiki Finds Her Voice. Tell us a bit about the book and the inspiration behind it.
KS: Yes, I do. The book is pretty much dedicated to little girls like me. I was skinny when I was younger but got chunky in 8th grade. I noticed that I was different. Growing up, it seemed that there was an ideal way for you to look to be considered beautiful by society. I often felt like the oddball, so this book is basically me saying I eventually found my voice. In the book I tell the story of my mum showing up unexpectedly at my elementary school talent show, and forbidding me from singing the r&b song I’d planned to perform. I can hear her words ringing in my ears right now: “You’re changing that song. You gotta be true to who you are…” [laughs] That was a huge lesson for me, as I learnt that I couldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I was meant to sing with a group of girls at the talent show, but they dropped out one by one because they didn’t want to sing a church song. It was only one girl that ended up singing with me and we received a standing ovation! To this day that is still one of the most memorable days of my life. You may feel that you’re the odd one out, but I daresay that your differences are beautiful in the sight of God, and they can redirect you to your God-given purpose. That’s what the book is about: being bold about the Gospel, your faith, your gifts, and your differences.

ADF: It sounds like the book is full of encouragement for kids and grown-ups [chuckles]. You are extremely passionate about empowering other women, and that’s really the heartbeat of your SistHER Summit. Congrats on a very successful 2024 conference! Take us back to the genesis of this powerful women’s movement.
KS: Honestly, the 2024 SistHER Conference was such a blessing. Everything I am today is courtesy of my incredible village. Of course, God is my number one, but there’s a village of people outside of my parents who have poured into me. I wanted to give back and help girls whose circumstances were not conducive for them to flourish – girls with great potential yet no village to support them. I wanted to create a space for them to thrive and believe again. That was the genesis of SistHER; it was a mentorship programme. My schedule allowed me to open it up a bit more, so I decided to make it bigger and trust that God would send those assigned to me to the event. And so we did this conference in January, which was a summit. We had Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Jekalyn Carr, Naomi Raine, and so many other young women – all fired up for God.

ADF: You’ve shared a bit about your village and, by following you on social media, I know you have a wonderful sisterhood of girlfriends. What would you say to that woman who isn’t crazy keen on having a close community of girlfriends?
KS: Oooh, I would ask her to pray about it and be discerning. Believe it or not, I used to be like that too. I always got on better with guys and had lots of brothers, but once I experienced true sisterhood, I was forever marked. I’ve learnt to compartmentalise my relationships – some are for fun, laughter and hanging out, and some have more depth to them. I would encourage that woman who is skeptical about forging a sisterhood to give it a try. You need your sisters, and they need you.

ADF: You’ve done some fantastic music collaborations. Which artist would you love to record with next?
KS: Thank you so much for the compliment on the collaborations. Who would I love to collaborate with next? That’s a good question… Maybe DOE, maybe Jonathan McReynolds… I’d love to work with Kirk Franklin, Michael Bublé, to name a few… I have been praying and asking the Lord to give me a new song for this season, so we’ll see how that pans out.

ADF: Music, books, clothing line, movies… you literally do it all! [laughs] What else can we expect from you in the future? 
KS: We are working on a tour and hopefully new music will come soon. I’m getting back into the groove of things, getting back on the road, working on these books… I will be doing a lot more YouTube videos to help me stay connected with my community of followers, so stay tuned. Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat to you and all that good stuff, and I hope that all goes well… Love y’all!

Visit www.iamkierrasheard.com

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