Actor, minister, author, entrepreneur, influencer and singer, Jekalyn Carr discusses Gospel Music Heritage Month, her recent single and upcoming album, and alludes to new and exciting projects in the works. Get to know the effervescent chart-topper and how her positivity, family and love of God have guided her to achieve the success that she has today.
With “Changing Your Story” and at just 23 years old you’ve already made history with six top 10 radio singles and four #1 singles across the Billboard Gospel charts. When did you get your start in music? When did you realize singing would become your career?
I started singing at the age of 5 years old. I come from a singing family but I just knew that singing was my passion. This is what I love to do, everytime I turned around I was singing something. I was that little girl in the mirror singing and practicing. I would go on the back porch and sing to the grass; I said the grass was my crowd. I couldn’t escape it. This is what I love to do and I remember at a very young age I told God, “all I want to do is inspire your people and give your people hope through my gifts.” So now being able to do that globally and on a national and international level is just a beautiful beautiful experience. I didn’t expect to be where I am today and God is continuing to do great things but all I can say is let God be the Glory. He definitely changed my story.
September is Gospel Music Heritage Month. Are you doing anything special to celebrate?
I definitely am! I’m also releasing a few songs because my album is coming soon. So I’m releasing a few songs to give to the people – They have been awaiting it – I did my live recording in October of 2019 and they have been very very patient. And so yeah, I am going to be releasing some music and hopefully really bless people across the world.
What specifically about Gospel Music’s Heritage do you want music consumers to know more about?
Definitely our history and understanding how it all began and the sacrifices that our ancestors in the music world had to make just to get the message across. I think it is so inspiring. We can learn as well from our history to understand how times have changed and the things we can continue to do better in the gospel community in the music world and also in every other aspect of the music.
What artists have influenced your own music and why?
You know people say I have “a traditional sound with a little modern twist to it” but I love the legends. I love people like The Caravans, Shirley Caesar, Donald Lawrence, Donnie McClurkin The Clark Sisters, I just love the legends in general and for me to see their longevity, to see how they were back then, and how they are still going strong doing what they do and loving what they do that’s such an inspiration to me and why I love and lean towards the legends.
Gospel is an industry of its own design. What about Gospel music do you love and how has it played a role in your career as an artist?
I love gospel music because it encourages you, it uplifts you, it inspires you, it gives you what you need in that moment. I tell people all the time, whenever we are facing something or going through a rough spot, or even happy days, a lot of times we tend to lean towards gospel music. Gospel music is a foundation of so many artists not just in the gospel community. I think that says a lot about gospel and how much of an impact it has on people from across the world. And that’s why I just love gospel music.
I love gospel music because it encourages you, it uplifts you, it inspires you, it gives you what you need in that moment.
Beyond performing, you are also an actress, author, speaker, minister, influencer, and entrepreneur. Next to music, what’s your favorite career path? Is there another job you haven’t done you would still want to explore?
Of course, there are things that I’m working on even now that I’m very very excited about but next to music my favorite career would have to be an actor and an entrepreneur. But there are so many things I have going on in addition to what I have been doing. I’ll be staying more about that very soon. I’m very excited about it.
What would you describe as your biggest accomplishment?
This is quite hard for me to say because there have been so many big moments but when it comes to the music I’d have to say releasing “Greater Is Coming,” because that was the breakout song for me and put Jekalyn Carr on the map when it came to music.
What do you want aspiring young musicians to know when it comes to starting their musical journey?
Well first I want to encourage you to make sure you have the right covering. You don’t want to be lost out here. What played a huge part in my success and me being able to come as far as I’ve come and continue to grow is because I have the right people around me and the right people I’m connected to — Definitely the right covering. My parents are always there making sure I’m good both spiritually and naturally. I encourage you to make sure your connections remain in the vicinity of people who want to push you, people who want to see you successful, and grow in life, because that is a huge part in your journey. You can’t be connected to people who want to see you fail or people who do things that can affect you. You’re on your path to success but the mindset that they have can sometimes affect you so you have to make sure your company stays clear and clean as it relates to you being connected to people that are like minded. And not only that but people who will look out for you, people who will tell you when you’re wrong, and celebrate you when you’re right, people that will protect you and cover you in many many areas.
I encourage you to make sure your connections remain in the vicinity of people who want to push you, people who want to see you successful, and grow in life, because that is a huge part in your journey.
If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would you say?
I definitely would tell myself over and over again that your sacrificing and your patience is about to pay off.
Your book and now e-course give advice on “winning in life.” How do you define “winning in life”?
Well I will say first, it’s different for everyone. How I define winning might not be how someone else defines winning. We all have our different goals, our different dreams, so you have to push forward until you see everything that you desire become your reality. One thing I will say is that you can’t compare your win to someone else’s or someone else’s win to yours because at the end of the day you have your path and you don’t want to be thrown off focus because you’re focused on what someone else is doing. And then you’re saying “well I don’t have as much as they have”,”I don’t have this” and ”I don’t have that.” But maybe God wants to use what you do have to cause you to win in life and then the more you grow and the more you go He will continue to add on to that. So that’s one thing I definitely try to encourage people to do is to make sure you focus on what God wants you to do in life and celebrate your victories, even if you don’t hear anybody saying you’re doing good or anyone else pushing you. You have to push yourself because pushing yourself does matter.
How have you “won in life,” thus far?
Well I’ve stated before, just seeing God really really changed my story. Going from a place where I didn’t expect any of this to happen, now God has blessed me to accomplish a lot of things not just in my music career but in my life in general. Things that we would believe in God for. And to see how God has been able to shift those things in my favor, and my families favor, has been such a blessing. That’s why I can minister from that place, even as I minister ‘Changing Your Story’ because I’ve seen , I’ve witnessed, God change my story. Not only that but he’s DAILY changing my story. So that’s why I try to encourage and help people to understand that despite how impossible your situation looks, because God raised me in a time where it looked and seemed as though it was impossible to be successful without major connections or major record deals but God is like “listen I got you covered there’s a word that I have over your life and I’m not going to stop until that word becomes your reality.” Being able to push and see God do that… Listen I don’t mind telling my story. I don’t mind sharing with the world that God, He will change your story especially if He did it for me He can do greater and bigger for you.
What’s on the horizon for Jekalyn Carr?
As I mentioned before there’s so many things I’m working on. Of course my album Changing Your Story is definitely here. I’m excited about it and then there’s other things I’m working on. For those who want to stay connected with me and know what’s going on in my world you can continue to follow me on my social media: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.