A gospel artist who sings for the Lord but with an up-to-date, R&B-influenced sound and attitude, Kierra Sheard (billed early in her career as Kierra "Kiki" Sheard) was born in Detroit, Michigan on June 20, 1987. Kierra's mother is Karen Clark-Sheard, a gospel vocalist best known for her work with the Clark Sisters; her father is Bishop J. Drew Sheard, a well-known author, speaker, and worship leader; and her grandmother was the respected and influential choral director Mattie Moss Clark. Growing up in a musical family, Kierra began singing early in life, and she made her recording debut when she was just ten years old, with guest appearances on two numbers on her mother's first solo effort, 1997's Finally Karen. One of those songs, "The Will of God," won a Stellar Award for Best Children's Performance, while the other, "The Safest Place," became a favorite on gospel radio.
Kierra was soon singing backing vocals alongside her mother, the Clark Sisters, and her aunt Dorinda Clark-Cole. In 2003, Kierra signed a record deal with EMI Gospel, and her debut solo album, I Owe You, was released in September 2004. The album was a critical and commercial success, rising to number four on the gospel albums chart and number 29 on the R&B/hip-hop chart. A collection of remixes, Just Until..., was released in August 2005, and one track from the set, a reworking of "Let Go" by the Godson Complex, became a major hit in Japan. In June 2006, shortly after graduating from high school, Kierra dropped her second album, This Is Me, which reached number one on the gospel album chart the week it was released. The album spawned three singles ("Yes," "Why Me," and the title song) and received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. Kierra's third album, Bold Right Life, appeared in October 2008, and the same month, she appeared as a guest vocalist on the single "God in Me" by Mary Mary, which became a major gospel hit. In late 2009, the compilation Kiki's Mixtape was released, which featured a collection of new tracks, remixes, and fan favorites.
In 2010, Kierra landed small roles in two Christian-themed films, Preacher's Kid and Blessed and Cursed. Kierra's fourth proper album, 2011's Free, found her jumping to Karew Records, the label that had long been home to the Clark Sisters and Karen Clark Sheard. The album also debuted the BRL Choir (standing for "Bold Right Life"), a gospel vocal ensemble working with Kierra. In April 2013, the BET cable network debuted the reality series The Sheards, which followed the activities of the extended Clark and Sheard families, both on- and off-stage. Kierra's fifth album, Graceland, was released in July 2014; it was preceded by a pair of singles, "Trumpets Blow" and "2nd Win," and topped digital sales charts shortly after it was posted. In November 2015, Kierra delivered a new EP, an eight-song effort titled LED. ~ Mark Deming