Kierra Valencia “Kiki” Sheard was born in Detroit, Michigan on June 20, 1987. She is the daughter of gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard (member of gospel singing group The Clark Sisters) and the granddaughter of gospel choral director Mattie Moss Clark.
She was raised in the suburb of West Bloomfield, Sheard spent her formative years surrounded by the influences of her family, their faith, and their music. At age 6, she began singing in the choir at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, pastored by her father Bishop J. Drew Sheard.
Even at a young age, Sheard had a preternatural grip on the signature “Clark sound” pioneered by her mother and aunts, executing high and fast melismata, riffs, runs, and deep, throaty growls sometimes referred to as “squalls” (the latter is prominently displayed on “Done Did It”, a traditional gospel leaning track from her album I Owe You)
Sheard made her professional stage debut at the age of 10, performing on two tracks on her mother’s debut solo album Finally Karen in 1997. One of those songs was “The Will Of God”, written by Evangelist Richard “Mr. Clean” White as the standout closing track. The song won a Stellar Award for Best Children’s Performance. In the following years, she honed and matured her skills as a performer and vocalist.
Sheard started singing as a background vocalist for her mother, her aunt Dorinda Clark-Cole, and the Clark Sisters. In 2002, Sheard was featured on her aunt Dorinda’s self-titled debut album. The next year, she performed two tracks again on her mother’s third album, The Heavens Are Telling. On The Heavens Are Telling, she was featured with her mother on a popular cover of Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me (Lyzel In E Flat)”. In 2003, EMI Gospel won a bidding war among several record companies to sign Sheard to her first recording contract.
Her debut album I Owe You was released on September 7, 2004. The 11-track set included production and songwriting from such luminaries as Rodney Jerkins, Warryn Campbell, Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary, J Moss, and Tonéx. The album also functioned as the production debut for her brother J Drew.
EMI commissioned a collection of remixes entitled Just Until… on August 2, 2005. The title of the stopgap release was abbreviated from its working title, “Just Until The Next Record”. The album had a surprise international hit in the Godson Concept remix of “Let Go”. The upbeat gospel single, released only in Japan, raced to the top of the mainstream R&B charts and remained there for several weeks.
Shortly after graduating high school, Sheard readied her second album, This Is Me. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart when it was released on June 27, 2006. A midtempo fan favorite, the Fred Jerkins III-produced “Why Me?” was chosen as the lead single for the album. Sheard shot her first music videos for two subsequent singles from the album, “Yes” and “This Is Me”. The album was Grammy Award-nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album in December 2006.
In addition to performing at the 2007 Stellar Awards (“Why Me?”), Sheard appeared on BET’s Celebration of Gospel, standing in for pregnant Faith Evans in “Endow Me” (as popularized by Sheard’s aunts) along with Coko, Lil’ Mo, and Fantasia. Sheard also sang with her mother for A Tribute to Aretha Franklin
In October 2008, Sheard released her third album, Bold Right Life. The album’s two lead singles were “Praise Him Now” and “Won’t Hold Back”. Sheard was also featured on what would be the biggest single of her career to date, “God In Me”, from Mary Mary’s The Sound album.
In January 2009, Sheard appeared at the BMI Trailblazers, performing “Jesus Is a Love Song” as a salute to her aunt, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark.
Sheard released a greatest hits EP entitled KiKi’s Mixtape on September 22, 2009. This included three new unreleased songs, two remixes, singles from previous albums and “This Christmas” with Marcus Cole.
Sheard had a role in the film Preacher’s Kid (starring platinum-selling R&B artist LeToya Luckett, Durrell Babbs, Clifton Powell, Gregory Alan Williams, and Sharif Atkins), which was released in theaters across the U.S. on January 29, 2010 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on May 4, 2010.
Sheard’s fourth album, Free, was released on October 18, 2011. This was her first album on her family’s gospel label, Karew Records (pronounced Kuh-Rue). Originally scheduled for a July 2011 release, the album was leaked and subsequently pushed back and reformatted with a different track listing. The album features Sheard’s BRL (Bold Right Life) Choir.
On April 7, 2013, Sheard and her family debuted in a new BET reality series, The Sheards. The show is based on the lives of Sheard, her brother and producer J. Drew, and her parents, Grammy Award-winning Karen Clark Sheard and Pastor J. Drew Sheard Sr. Season 1 had a run of eight episodes, and it was announced on the BET Twitter account that Season 2 would debut in the fall of 2014.
Sheard released the single “Trumpets Blow” in 2013, and “2nd Win” was a song played on SoundCloud in 2014. Her fifth album, Graceland, was released on July 22, 2014. This album hit #1 overall on iTunes, and was nominated for multiple awards at the 2015 Stellar Awards.
Sheard is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in psychology. Though her touring schedule has been curbed to accommodate her academic goals, Sheard did embark on a Japanese tour with her mother Karen Clark-Sheard in August 2006. In 2013, Sheard began preaching at her father’s church and others.
In June 2015, Sheard released the Fall/Winter collection of Eleven60, which honors her inspiration, her mother, the bold and classy Karen Clark Sheard. Eleven60 is named for the month and year that Clark Sheard was born. Sheard has personally designed classic and refreshing looks for the professional curvy woman that is chic, sexy, bold and eclectic. She has crisscrossed the globe and absorbed the fashion trends of New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul.