Jekalyn Carr

Interview: Talking with 4-Time Grammy Nominee Jekalyn Carr

Gospel music singer-songwriter Jekalyn Carr recently released her new single, “I Believe God,” the title track from her forthcoming album.

Carr has risen to the top of gospel music through a combination of talent, dedication, creative imagination, tireless labor on behalf of humanity, and unswerving faith in God. Her past eighteen months have been a whirlwind of achievement and recognition: she became the first gospel artist to be inducted into the Women’s Songwriters Hall of Fame and President Biden granted her a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I Believe God” presents Carr at her most powerful and her most assured. Her singing is fiery, inspired, and fully embodied; her vocal melody is decorated with runs, daredevil swoops, and jeweled strands of notes, but she never loses the main idea or oversells her lyric. Instead, she lets her testament of faith speak for itself.

The video, directed by Allen Carr, complements the song’s majesty, conveying the feeling of an ethereal church, with Carr’s angelic vocals serving as the focal point.

CelebMix spoke with Jekalyn Carr to find out more about the inspiration for “I Believe God,” how she got started in music and the evolution of her tone.

What three things can’t you live without?

I’m going to have to say Jesus, my family, and food.

What inspired your new single/music video, “I Believe God?”

So what inspired “I Believe God” is basically me having the desire to see people experiencing this God who never disappoints. So many times, when we go through, a lot of people feel like that’s all to life. They feel like that’s the way it’s supposed to be their entire life, but “I BELIEVE GOD” is to help them to understand and know that God wants to give them His best. He wants to show you differently. He wants to change your view to whatever it is that you want to see happening in your life. All He requires you to do is to believe. Yes, sometimes people may say “it is easier said than done”, however, I’d rather believe God and get results than to not believe and stay where I am. This song is not just for the believers, it’s even for the unbelievers, to people in general so that they can know and see that God wants to see you restored, your families may whole, your life restored, and your dreams restored. With the music video, I wanted a golden heavenly theme. All I saw was gold and clouds. Somehow, all of that was incorporated inside the video and was beautifully brought together. I just wanted everything to kind of give like a heavenly angelic vibe because even when you hear this song that’s the vibe of the song itself.

How did you get started in music?

I come from a musically inclined family. I grew up around music. I was that little girl who was always in the mirror singing. I would create choirs with my cousins. I was literally saying to the grass as if the grass was my crowd, not knowing I was preparing to sing before masses. It started when my parents recognized my gift when I was about five years old.  The choir was singing out of key one night in rehearsal and I stopped them; this was the adult choir by the way, and I told them, “Y’all are out of key” and I gave them the correct keys. So, it opened my parents’ eyes to see the “gift” of music that I had, and I wasn’t just a kid singing and it was just beautiful. I’ve been going strong ever since then.

Where are you from?

I am originally from West Memphis, Arkansas/Memphis, Tennessee – I claim them both.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

I would have to say a little bit. I am a southern woman. In the south, you kind of get a little bit of everything. You get the Gospel, rock, blues- I mean you have a wide range of music. Most importantly we just love good music.

If you had to describe your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?

I feel like with me, it really varies.  I love whatever makes the song blossoms beautifully because some songs call for different things. Like for example, in “Changing Your Story” I really wanted that rock and electric guitar feel for that song as well as for “Jehovah Jireh”; but then you have “You’re Bigger” where it’s not as intense. It is more strings, more orchestra. “I BELIEVE GOD” is the same way – more orchestra. So, yes, I think it really depends on the song.

What’s your definition of tone? And has your tone changed or remained pretty much the same?

This is a good question. I think my definition of tone is basically your unique sound. Your tone is that thing that makes you, you. For me, my tone and my sound for years have been the same; however, for the past two to three years maybe, I can say my range has wildly increased. It has always been there, it’s just for years I tried to be wise vocally when it came to choosing my notes due to my songs being vocally intense. However, here lately my range has been extremely high.  I don’t know, maybe it’s an age change or whatever- but yeah, I’m loving it.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

I would have to say I had to identify my purpose/lane in order to know my style of writing. I know that my lane mostly consists of pushing and encouraging people. You’d be surprised at how many people feel like they don’t deserve to have the best in life. They don’t deserve to live their dreams, deserve to live out their purpose. People have tried yet they have failed, and they’ve given up. So, I believe that my writing style is to let them know it is possible for you to thrive and to prosper in life despite your background, despite where you come from, despite how many times you tried to write the book, how many times you tried to pursue your dreams and it didn’t work out for you my goal is ensure that they are encouraged to keep going and keep fighting.

What can you share about your writing process?

My writing process is a little different for each song. Some songs come at the most random moments. I’ve had songs come to me while I was on the plane, while I was performing on stage, and even in a dream. So, it really depends. All of our writing is in-house. My dad and mom write as well. Sometimes the bridge will come or a verse or whatever, and we will all come together. He will get on the piano, and we will finish writing out the entire song. That’s mostly how it is.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

There are so many, I can’t really pinpoint one or two.  There are so many people who are out there just doing their thing and I love to look around and just see people living out their purpose and living out their dreams. Just giving so many people hope. Encouraging and inspiring them through their gifts. I just find that to be so beautiful when anybody, whether they are known or not, is living out their purpose. I salute you.

How do you define success?

I think that success should be defined according to “your” journey and your life’s goals. So many people are easily discouraged, and they doubt their journey, success, gifts, and their possibilities because they look at the next person and compare themselves to them. We also have to understand that success is not just about having things and having fame, no. There are so many people who are not famous, yet they are successful. So many people who had given up, who started writing their vision, but they gave up on it, however, they then woke up and say “You know what? I’m going to get back at it” – THAT is success. There are people who decided to give up on their family- give up on life, however, they then woke up and said, “You know what? I’m going to give it another try” – THAT is success. So again, success should be defined according to your journey for your life and please know that no matter what there’s always a win in everything in your life.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Live gigs? Music videos?

There are so many things that I’m working on all this year. Some of those things, in particular, are, I am getting ready to come out in a movie called Praise This that is produced by Will Packer.  I’m also excited because I am doing my You Will Win conference this year. My last stop before Covid was Orlando, Florida, and this year I’m doing it in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be June 23- June 24th. The ultimate target of my conference is to help people win in EVERY area of their life. It’s about reaching people from the spiritual aspect and the natural. From the marketplace, faith, family, relationships, finances, etc. I’m bringing in so many guests to ensure that you leave with valuable information and keys to win in life. I am doing some more music. I’m releasing the I BELIEVE GOD album this year and I’m excited about it. There are so many more things that I’m working on and I’m just excited and I’m looking forward to all these great things that God continues to do in my life

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.