At 24, Kierra Sheard is no longer the little girl we grew to love standing beside her mom echoing and mimicking all her runs and crazy vocal tricks. She is now a grown woman influencing a whole new generation of youth that are now emulating her vocal presence and her own brand of worship!
Recently I sat down with Kierra to discuss weight, relationships, a new CD and much more!
Since you’re first album, we’ve seen your weight fluctuate. Is it a constant struggle for you? How important is image for you as an artist?
By me being in the gospel industry, it wasn’t a major issue, as say, for an artist on the mainstream side. However, I did have people saying, “You gotta get some weight down. You’ve gotta do this, you’ve gotta do that…” However, it’s always been a struggle for me because it runs in my family. I mean I would like to think I’m attractive and I like to dress and wear cute clothes, just like any other girl. And I love to shop, so when you see all of these cute clothes that you could wear if you were smaller, sometimes it can take a toll on you. It can kind of make you worry. However, I’m always challenging myself to know that the most important thing is to be healthy. When you’re healthy, you automatically have the look because it’s impossible to be overweight and healthy. I’m living and learning and I’m still trying to keep it off.
What do you think is the cause of the weight gain? Is it your diet, lack of exercise…?
I don’t like to exercise. I hate working out and getting on the machines and all of that. So, I’ve started kickboxing classes and Zumba. Those are the things that I do now. But when it comes to me walking the treadmill or doing the elliptical machine, I can’t do it! But I push myself because sometimes I miss my classes. So I have no choice. And yes, I definitely like to eat. But the thing about me is, I may not eat a lot, but I’ll eat all of the wrong things. So, I’ve been watching my calories. When I first did my weight loss, I wasn’t eating any carbs or sugar. And now that I’ve kind of gotten off of that because my body has become, immune to it, I’ve been watching my calories and trying to switch up my diet instead of sending my body into a shock. So, it will know I’m still trying to lose some more weight. Now that I watch my calories, I’m able to see, one piece of chicken for black folks is a whole meal for somebody else. So, now I’m looking at how I eat and what I’m eating. Before, I would have eaten two breasts, which is 1,000 calories and I’m only supposed to take in 1500 calories in a day. Now, I’m doing much better. Sometimes, I’ll still go over my calories. But like I said, I like to eat. And I like good tasting food. Don’t give me no bland, unseasoned stuff. I want some Lawry’s or hot sauce. I don’t want maple syrup; I want Aunt Jemima’s. So I do my best to have a balance.
Have you ever considered gastric bypass surgery?
Absolutely! I consider it every day. And I’m open about it because it’s a real struggle for me. People see me going up and down with my weight and then they see where I come from, so it’s not a secret. As a family, we’re thick women. And there’s nothing wrong with being a thick woman. But you have to protect your heart. So yes, I think about having the surgery all the time, but my family will not let me get it. And that’s just it. If I did it, I’d need some financial help because it’s expensive. And the first person I would ask is my Daddy, and he’s not in favor of it at all! So right now I’m just trying to watch my diet and stay consistent in the gym.
Were you nervous about recording your first live CD?
I was very nervous! Like, very nervous!! When I get nervous…you don’t want to know what my nerves do. (lol) I know people were coming to see if I could pull it off and do what my mama does. And you’re always anxious when you’re trying something new. But I’ve been getting more positive feedback than negative feedback. I think people were kind of surprised that I kept it churchy, but it was still contemporary and urban too. I tried to make it well rounded. My brother and I did the majority of the writing and my brother did all of the production. Before, a lot of people didn’t really like my brother and I together when it came to us making music. But, God just showed Himself on this record. He gave us songs that people love. We were just in Ithaca, NY and people were singing every word. I got teary eyed because it was reassurance that this transition was supposed to be!
Is it hard to live up to your past albums? Do you worry about that?
I worry now because I’ve heard that this record is better than all of my past records. However, what put me on the map and sold more, were my previous projects. And that could be because we’re in transition with switching labels and all of that stuff, and as far as radio, things have changed tremendously! It’s much harder getting your music played on radio. But, now at 24, I’m enjoying what I do. On my past projects, I was growing into a woman and kind of finding myself. And I’m still finding myself, but I love what I’ve put out for everyone to hear. Now I’m afraid of how I will top this record.
You said for the most part, it’s been positive feedback. What’s been the negative?
Well I’ve heard people wanted more contemporary songs and that the crying was too much. There definitely won’t be all that crying on the next project, but it was something I wanted people to see. I’m not “little KiKi” anymore. I get in my Word on my own and it has nothing to do with dad or mom. I have my own relationship with God.
So is the next album is going to be live too?
Absolutely. I think I have found my niche!
Will you work with your brother again or will you branch out with other producers?
I’ll definitely work with my brother. I don’t mind working with other producers, but my brother and I, we have found my sound. On my past records, you heard everybody else’s sound and me singing their sound. Whereas now, I found myself, this is who I am, and I don’t want to get away from that. It’s like Janet Jackson with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Mary Mary and Warryn Campbell or J. Moss and PAJAM, they all have distinctive sounds. It’s like the Clark Sisters with Twinkie. We loved them without her, but we wanted Twinkie back.
Your mom is Karen Clark Sheard. Your aunts are Dorinda, Jacky and Twinkie. And you cousin is J. Moss. You would think it would be easy for you to get radio play.
It’s funny you say that, because, there is a radio station here in Detroit, and I haven’t heard my songs yet. And it’s not a new station. But I’m okay with that, because it goes to show that some people don’t know what they’re talking about when they say I have it easy. Let me say this, I have it easier than a lot, I realize that, but not as easy as what people think. That’s what I love about my mom. She’ll push us, but to a certain extent. She’s not just going to give us everything. It just challenges me to keep working. My mom and aunts have worked for 30 or 40 years, so I can’t just come in the game thinking everything is going to be handed to me just because of my last name. I believe you have to work for what you want.
How do you deal with the criticisms?
Sometimes I take it as constructive and sometimes I take it as people being mean and cruel. Sometimes I don’t read it at all. Just recently a young lady tweeted me said how disgusting I was and she lied and said I was charging people to take pictures with me, and that wasn’t the case at all. So, I responded to her tweet. I probably shouldn’t have, but just because you’re a believer, doesn’t mean you’re punk. I’m not a punk. I’m human. So with that said, I try not to respond to a lot of it because you can’t. That will just contribute to the negativity people are already putting out there about you. You can tell when critiques are coming from a genuine place. So, when I read some of the posts or comments on YouTube clips, I’ll look at the video, and I automatically criticize myself. A lot of people say I’m too hard on myself, but I pay attention when people say, I’m doing too much screaming. Then I go back and listen to my performance. If I’m doing too much screaming, then I know I have to go ahead and put that squall away and save it for the next song. But, there’s some stuff I don’t take in. Somebody said, “She’s just as fat as she can be, and that dress was too tight.” I didn’t think the dress was too tight. It was cute!
What is your position at Karew Records?
I’m kind of all over the place. My title is Creative Director. However, I get into different ideas on how to market, or get the street team out there, different ways to create a new audience, or just new ideas. I did the packaging of my record and I did the packaging of my mom’s record, so that was fun. We needed a different…well I won’t say that, but it was fun, there you go!
How is it working in a family business?
It’s a lot of fun. We all know our roles. We never really have any drag out arguments. We’re not like that. I would say my mom, my brother and I; we clash here and there, but nothing major. But my Dad, even though he’s the owner, he’ll kind of leave it up to us. But here is an example of how we sometimes disagree. On my new CD my mom thought I needed some harmonies on one of the songs. And I was like, “No, we don’t want that.” She said, “Y’all need some harmonies. A soprano or a tenor.” So, whenever she hears the record, she’s always singing soprano and trying to make somebody sing tenor, and I’m like, no, we don’t want to sing that!! (lol) It’s the generational change, but we laugh a lot. But, she’s mommy, so sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t.
You still live at home, right?
Yep, in the basement of my parent’s home.
Do you want to move out?
Yes, I want to move into a loft. But I have some business ventures that I want to get going. I have to remind myself that I want to be a millionaire one day. If I go buy a loft now, then I won’t be able to have the clothing line or the two major conferences that are in works. So, I want a loft and I want a new car, too, a Range Rover, but I’m going to wait!
You’ve stopped wearing your engagement ring, so I assume the wedding is off. What happened?
Yeah the engagement is off. I’m only 24 and I just need more time. I have my whole life ahead of me, but we’re still great friends, so that’s it.
Are you dating?
Uh… kinda sorta. Yes and no. I’ve been telling myself I want to focus on my career.
KIERRA’S 10 RANDOM TRUTHS
- Favorite reality show? “Love and Hip Hop.” I love Chrissy!
- Favorite restaurant? “Beef Harbor. “
- Can you swim? I can swim, but not to save nobody’s life.
- Favorite song on your mom’s latest CD? “I Made A Choice.”
- Pick your favorite. Smokie Norful, Deitrick Haddon, BeBe Winans or J. Moss. I’d have to say my cousin, J. Moss.
- Favorite subject in college? Psychology.
- Favorite movie? “Friday.”
- Dream car? Don’t really have one, but I would like an white Audi.
- Favorite holiday? Christmas.
- (the 10th one got crickets lol so I made the editorial decision to take it out…that was on me not Kierra!)