Gospel Artist Keyondra Lockett Talks New Music, New Business & The Importance of Black Ownershi
We had a chance to catch up with the amazing gospel recording artist Keondra Lockett and ask her about her musical journey, her response to the pandemic and its affects on the industry and what’s coming up next in her career.
ARTSOUL: Keyondra, you are such a force to be reckoned with–a powerhouse vocalist, skillful writer and a positive role model for young girls of color! Was this always your dream? How did you get your start in the industry?
KEYONDRA: Thank you so much! Honestly, things just progressed into where they are now. My life really confirms the scripture that says “For I know the plans I have for you” says the LORD (Jeremiah 29:11). My start in music was with 2x Stellar Award Nominee and female gospel group, Zie’l.
ARTSOUL: Who have your influences been for songwriting and your singing style?
KEYONDRA: My top 5 vocal inspirations are: Karen Clark Sheard, Kim Burrell, Miley Cyrus, Brandy, and Billie Holiday. Everything I write is from my experiences so I’d like to say, I influence myself in songwriting.
ARTSOUL: Many young artists often struggle with deciding which genre of music to pursue. Did you experience this struggle or did you always know you wanted to be a gospel artist?
KEYONDRA: My mom wouldn’t go for me singing secular music lol. But the healthy alternative, to me anyways, was urban gospel music. It’s always been my favorite type of gospel music. But truly, I’ve only wanted to sing gospel music. I felt it was part of my purpose. That may be deep for some, but that’s real.
ARTSOUL: You released your amazing song “Trouble Won’t Last” right at the start of the pandemic. The lyrics and melodic production instantly bring the listener to a place of refreshing in the midst of such a scary time. What was your vision for this song? How has music helped you during the effects of COVID-19?
KEYONDRA: What’s crazy is that I wrote that song as a testimony of God healing me vocally, that was the vision. But of course, it speaks to all troubles. The music most definitely came at the right time. Happily and sadly, TWL has pushed and propelled me as an artist but it troubles me at times how my success in this moment feeds off the woes of this world issue. But I’m so grateful that it’s encouraging the body and touching so many lives. That’s what music should do, it’s really helped me during this time to be pointed to God. Gospel music that is.
ARTSOUL: Speaking of COVID-19, so many artists have been struggling to stay creative with so many live events canceled. What’s been some of your favorite ways to stay creative and in touch in community during nationwide shut-downs?
KEYONDRA: I’ve always been taught to have many irons on the fire. So where my creativity may not be as seen or felt musically right now, I have other things like being an entrepreneur that keep me busy. My company that I share with my sister and mom, Jolie Noire, is an elevated leisure wear line. It keeps me going none stop. Pre pandemic, I was working on my EP coming soon.
ARTSOUL: We continue to celebrate your amazing accomplishment of a toy doll deal with The Kenya Doll brand in 2016! In light of the crucial racial climate in America today, what have you been doing to reinforce that black girl empowerment we’ve come to expect from you? Have you found it challenging being a black woman in this industry? If so, what have you done to maintain a positive outlook?
KEYONDRA: My brand, Jolie Noire which means Pretty Black in French, is in existence to affirm and validate black girls and women. So yes, I’m certainly reinforcing black girl empowerment. Will never stop that. It can be very challenging but knowing of the customers love and support keeps us going. That work isn’t music related but it’s yet apart of who I am.
In music, we see many other races celebrated and lifted based on color alone, and given the opportunity to soar. It’s really interesting but, I see with consistency and drive and maybe taking a bit longer, that it’s not necessarily people that keep your boat going. It’s God through you. That’s my positive outlook.
ARTSOUL: There has been a very controversial discussion going on regarding “cancel culture.” As a public figure and believer, what are your thoughts on this strategy? Do you think there is an effective way to deal with injustices done and mistakes made by people in the public eye?
KEYONDRA: The cancel culture has a spirit of the “I AM God” complex resting heavily on it! “I said it, and I ain’t taking it back” -Nene Leaks Lol It’s so true though. For a human to feel they have that much power to end a person, suggests a lot about that individual. If you feel the need to not support a celebrity or public figure etc. based on something they’ve done, just don’t support them. But to round up all the troops, if you will, and destroy that person and no mercy be given, is just wrong. I believe in righteously judging a matter, but I also believe in giving a couple chances too. That’s what God does.
ARTSOUL: Looking ahead to your upcoming projects, what artists/producers are you looking forward to collaborating with one day? Is there a different style you’d ever consider trying if you have the opportunity to experiment?
KEYONDRA: I have had the opportunity to experiment with country sounds. I’ve been in talks with an amazing producer friend about doing a gospel country album. So, think my Billboard Top 15 single Try to the 10th power on an album. That’s my country music style. I’d love to collaborate with PJ Morton one day. His approach to music/songwriting is dope.
ARTSOUL: What can we expect to see/hear from you coming up?
KEYONDRA: I have an EP that I’m getting prepped and ready to release called Cornerstone and a collaboration with 112’s Q Parker set to release later this year. I’m excited for you guys to hear it!
Find out more about Keyondra Lockett and everything she’s creating at https://www.keyondralockett.com.