B&E: Kierra "Kiki" Sheard
Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Kierra "Kiki" Sheard.Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.
INSPIRATIONAL HIP-HOP: Gospel ingénue Kierra "Kiki" Sheard hits the charts this week with an R&B/hip-hop spin on the family tradition.
The daughter of gospel veteran Karen Clark-Sheard -- who co-founded the Clark Sisters -- and granddaughter of the genre's late conductor/singer/instrumentalist/teacher Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Sheard bowed at No. 1 on both Billboard's Top Gospel Albums and Top Heatseekers charts with her EMI Gospel debut "I Owe You."
The album -- which also opened at No. 4 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart -- is the first debut to open atop the Top Gospel Albums tally since Nielsen SoundScan data has informed the chart.
An impressive family resume helped the Detroit-bred 17-year-old land major players for her first turn in the spotlight. Grammy-winning producer Rodney Jerkins co-wrote the album's first single, "You Don't Know," a catchy, bouncing hip-hop sermon that Sheard delivers with a fun but determined fervor.
Gospel producer/artist J Moss wrote the (all-ages) club-ready "Church Nite" and the ballad "Praise Offering," in which Sheard shows off an impressive vocal range. Though the album boasts mostly modern club beats, the singer falls back on her church choir roots for the more traditional "Done Did It."
Sheard made her recording debut at 9 years old, singing on her mother's 1997 solo Island Black Music/Island Inspiration debut "Finally Karen." For her duet, "The Will of God," Sheard won a best children's performance Stellar Award.
Though Sheard says she intends to stay near her gospel roots -- sharing the stage with artists like Donnie McClurkin and Mary, Mary -- the singer has also appeared onstage with one of her musical influences, Mary J. Blige.
While Sheard finishes high school in the Detroit suburb of Walled Lake, the singer plans to tour behind "I Owe You" during breaks.