EMI Gospel 2009
On “Love Like Crazy,” Kierra “Kiki” Sheard sings, “People want to ask what’s up, what’s up/I say, I’m doing way too much, too much.”
Truer words were never sung.
For the two or three people out there who are unaware of Kierra Sheard, she’s the gospel singing daughter of Karen Clark-Sheard, who is the daughter of the late COGIC choir maestro Mattie Moss Clark. In between live performances, singing on the Maze featuring Frankie Beverly tribute album, working toward a bachelor’s degree in English at Wayne State University in her native Detroit, launching a clothing line, running a youth ministry, and now starring in a feature film, Kierra took time out to record two new songs for a compilation called Kiki’s Mixtape.
Given that kind of schedule (I’m exhausted just writing about it), it’s no surprise that Kiki’s Mixtape is just a few seconds short of a half hour in length. That’s probably all the time she had to devote to it. What is essentially her “greatest hits thus far” project reprises her breakout smash, 2004’s “You Don’t Know,” and also includes a mix of her current single, “Love Like Crazy.”
I found the EP’s two mixes the most interesting, as they inject racing fuel into already energetic Kierra performances. In addition, one of the two new songs, “Sing to the Lord,” co-written by Kierra, is a high-octane amalgam of rock, CCR and power pop clearly aimed at multiple charts and very likely to hit one or more.
Kierra’s duet with Marcus Cole on “This Christmas” is bold and bracing, one of the better of the more recent covers of Donny Hathaway’s holiday chestnut.
The project is exhilarating and would have been even stronger had some of the mixes been extended well beyond three of four minutes, and if the ends and beginnings of tracks were blended together like a professional house party DJ. Perhaps this was not done because the songs are going to go directly into iPods…I mean gPods. Still, it would have been really something had the eight-project EP been double its size: sixty minutes of all-out urban gospel in the exciting Clark-Sheard style…maybe even with samples of some vintage recordings by Mattie, Clark Sisters and the Moss Family in between.
But of course I’m being picayune. In a word association test, Kiki’s Mixtape means “fun interlude.” It’s an opportunity to take stock of this talented young woman’s accomplishments to date and watch her prepare for her next chapter…because as she sings, “I say, I just can’t get enough, enough.” Nor can we.
Four of Five Stars
gPod picks: “Sing to the Lord,” “Love Like Crazy (Extended Mix),” “Wave Your Banner (Monsta Mix).”