Then, the sky blue again, there was the usual teen-parent tension many experience.

“You know how young adults go through a rebellious stage? Well, I went through that,” Sheard admits. “Parents get on your nerves, and my parents got on my nerves. But I’ve learned from them.

“And there are some things we have to learn on our own and see for ourselves,” she picks up. For Kiki, that meant finding out who her real friends were in tough times, that shopping can’t fill the heart’s empty spaces and that certain boys are simply not worth dating.

“Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way,” Kiki says. “Through these experiences, I was able to write these songs and share how the Lord brought me out of everything.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Sheard continues a revered gospel music pedigree. Not only is she the daughter of celebrated parents, Kiki is also the granddaughter of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Credited as one of the defining influences in gospel music, Dr. Clark was a conductor, arranger, songwriter, singer, instrumentalist and teacher, plus the president of the Church of God in Christ’s music department for 25 years. When the matriarch’s daughters – Jacky, Dorinda, Twinkie and Karen – formed The Clark Sisters, the quartet helped usher in a new brand of gospel during the ’70s and ’80s. With its breakthrough hit “You Brought the Sunshine” landing on the general market dance chart, The Clark Sisters helped reinvigorate gospel music in the R&B community, affecting artists from Tramaine Hawkins to Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary.

Kiki has been singing since the age of six. When she was nine, she recorded “The Safest Place” with Karen, which earned the duo a Stellar Award. At 10, the stage became Kiki’s playhouse; and she’s never looked back.

"This Is Me" is the follow-up to Sheard’s 2004 touted solo debut, "I Owe You." Sheard had yet to graduate from high school when the project released, but her professionalism and her passion for God were obvious. With top-billing producers such as Rodney Jerkins, Warryn Campbell and J Moss at her side, Sheard was rewarded with a lengthy list of accolades, including a GMA Music Award win and nominations for an NAACP Image Award and three Stellar Awards.

But what stands out for her today is how God’s patience is turning her into the woman she’s meant to be.

“Today, I am someone who can actually sing and cry and feel what I’m singing because I’ve actually been through an experience. Now, I know that Jesus is real,” she says. “‘This Is Me’ is a song anyone can sing because we say, ‘Lord, I’m asking that you accept me even though I make the decisions that I make. Lord, this is me, and I’m talking to you. Nobody else, just me and you. So please hear my cry,’” It’s a moving testimony.

We are all witnesses.
  
© 2006 CCM Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.   Click here to subscribe.