When you hail from a powerful lineage of gospel royalty, preserving and protecting your legacy can never be taken lightly. Grammy and Stellar Award-winning gospel artist, actress, and fashion designer Kierra “KiKi” Sheard is no exception. The Detroit native is the daughter of renowned gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard of The Clark Sisters and the granddaughter of legendary gospel choral director Mattie Moss Clark.
Sheard co-starred and portrayed her mother in the hit Lifetime movie The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel. The biopic premiered earlier this year with 2.7 million viewers, making it Lifetime’s highest-rated movie since 2016. Sheard, however, almost passed over the role, but thankfully with the sound advice of those closest to her, she decided to go forward.
Musically, she recently dropped her latest album KIERRA (Karew Entertainment / RCA Inspiration) which garnered more than 3 million streams in its first week and debuted at No. 1 on several industry charts. As always, she’s bossing up with her fashion line, Eleven60, available at Macys.com. As a full-figured woman, Sheard designs from the consumer’s perspective. “Full-figured consumers have often complained that it is difficult to find quality clothing in their size.” The brand celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. And speaking of celebratory milestones, the recent announcement of her engagement to Jordan Kelly only confirms with overwhelming evidence that indeed she’s blessed and highly favored.
During this unprecedented time in our history—it is necessary to nurture healthy and meaningful conversations around issues like inequality, injustice, and systemic racism. Moreover, we need to include conversations that under-gird the progression and perpetual advancement of our culture and that is—legacy.
The late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was creating a legacy through the music ministry of her daughters. Some may recall (in the Lifetime movie), the isolated incident when the oldest Clark sister (Twinkie) sold her music catalog to purchase a car. Thankfully, the catalog was retrieved several years later. Today, their music has inspired millions and has been sampled by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and others in the industry, according to Sheard.
Generational progression is important, especially as African Americans. “I would like to have things for my unborn children, nieces, and nephews so that they don’t have to work as hard as I am working.”
She references other family legacies like the Marriott’s in how they established their business, positioned their family, and build a legacy so that each generation can be covered. She believes that the next generation can be covered if the “now” generation handles it well. When these principles are instilled and passed down in our businesses, it helps the family to be recession-proof, stabilized, and less apt to stress and angst. “The suffering will not have to be so heavy when we can think about and plan for tomorrow and not just today.” Her grandfather taught her a valuable principle in economics: “if you spend a dollar, keep a quarter.” In other words, do not spend every dime that you have but prepare for tomorrow (the future).
Sheard says that this goes beyond money and emphasizes that building legacy gives your family something to stand for and on. For example, she was able to identify her gift with the legacy that was already set in her family. Here are some legacy-building qualities that I gleaned from the award-winning gospel singer.
The relentless spirit of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark is unequivocal and unapologetic. Sheard witnessed her mother and grandmother stick to their guns when it came to their passion and creativity and did not let anybody sway them.
Making sure that everyone is honored and that there is a standard. When it comes to her music, she is not just out there performing for herself but always keeping top of mind of those who paved the way for her. It is not a selfish, but selfless act.
In doing business with family, there may be some disagreements here and there, but the beautiful aspect is, depending on how healthy your family relationships are, no one is going to cover you like each other. It is a different kind of closeness when you share the same blood.
If you are building a legacy in business, learn how to stay in your lane and do not get off track. Embrace the unique opportunities to stretch and grow together. Adopt effective ways to communicate because with family, if things get “too personal,” then that can present a larger problem within itself.
As we concluded our interview, this is additional advice that Kiki shares on life, business and legacy:
Count The Cost
My grandfather always asked if I really needed it, or was it just a fleeting trend. Today, I am still often teased about the amount of questions that I ask! I do this because I desire to gain enough knowledge to make an informed decision.
Stay Clear Of Competition
This holds true especially in the era of social media because we’re always comparing ourselves. “Comparison is the thief of joy”—you can completely get off track and feel that you are inadequate or don’t have what it takes to be successful. My grandmother (Dr. Mattie Moss Clark) wanted it big for her daughters but always encouraged them to be true to who they were.
The Right Relationships
Although my grandmother experienced two failed marriages, currently there are strong marriages in my family—such as aunts and parents. For me personally, it is not about what a spouse would look like; but more so, does he have God in his heart. Choosing the right one can catapult you and choosing the wrong one can plummet you quickly. Therefore, surround yourself with destiny-driven and supportive relationships.