Keys, who sings with Revelation Choir at the 26,000 member West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, possesses an elegant, hauntingly beautiful voice. The CD’s title “For Anointed Ears Only” was borrowed from a sermon preached by gospel music icon Marvin Winans at West Angeles Church during their 2007 Jurisdictional Conference.
“It was a long night.” Keys recalls. “One of those jurisdictional meetings where they had a parade of folks on program making presentations and singing solos … By the time Bishop Winans got up to preach, my eyelids were drooping. If he had hummed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, half the church would’ve been snoring under the power of the Holy Ghost.” She laughs.
“He jokingly said we didn’t have to worry about him preaching long ’cause it was past midnight in his hometown and his body was starting to shut down. As promised, he didn’t preach long but the sermon, taken from I Samuel 10:14-16 and Mark 4:23 left my creative cells tingling”.
Armed with a warm spirit, an infectious smile, a generous heart and a passion for missions outreach, Sherrie Keys’ abundant gifts serve as a platform for ministry beyond music. When asked why she’s joining a robust gospel music arena, Keys replies: “America doesn’t need another gospel singer. But there are places all over the world mired in poverty, death, despair and disease that could use a song. 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty globally need a song. A song can be a catalyst for change. A song can uplift a nation.”
Keys grew up in Memphis, specifically South Memphis near Stax Records. She observes: “Memphis is a wonderful fusion of gospel, Delta blues, soul, country, jazz, rock, rockabilly and cat meows. I’m not a gospel purist though I was raised in a holiness (Church of God in Christ) home. I’m not sure how you would describe my vocal style. I’m not ornate. You’ll never catch me doing riffs and runs unless I’ve had too much caffeine.”
When asked why did it take her so long to record, she replies: “God’s timing differed from mine. Besides, I have an aversion to self-promotion. The kind of adulation normally reserved for secular artists seems strange in a gospel arena. The dichotomy is that art demands self-expression. The best musical artists are rewarded for creating a buzz. I’m clueless as to how to create a buzz … If I could walk on water, open blind eyes or raise Lazarus from the dead, people would definitely sit up and take notice.”
Keys has earmarked most of her CD sales to support charitable endeavors. The artist has set up an outreach ministry to highlight her concerns which she describes as human suffering which wounds the spirit. “Mohandes Ghandi said that there were people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. My calling is to reach hurting, indigenous people and say, ‘Don’t give up! God has not forgotten you’ “.