Grammy-nominated singer and actress Kelly Price has never shaken her gospel roots in music. In fact, her church origin story is what has molded her into the artist we know her as today. After releasing her first gospel project, This Is Who I Am, back in 2006, Price has revived her gospel spirit once again to release her latest EP, Grace.
After a tumultuous year dealing with the pandemic and losses within her family, the singer is leaning on her music to help encourage a spirit of healing and the practice of being gracious to others – something we all can use now more than ever.
Despite the challenges she encountered in 2020, Price is facing this year with a renewed attitude, all about positivity and prosperity. The singer's latest musical offering is a six-track gospel effort that serves as a reminder of God's grace and mercy through these unprecedented times. Now looking toward a future of healing and gratitude, Price is eager to share her message of grace with the world, and most importantly, herself.
Njera Perkins: The new EP is called Grace. I have to ask, how are you extending grace to others right now?
Kelly Price: Very intentionally. Grace is the one thing that, as I have explained on this project, I think that humanity can do better about extending to others. Most of the time, people don't realize how necessary grace is until they need it. Even writing about it recently for a reading plan, I have this acronym, and it's literally how I feel God downloaded grace and what it really is. I feel like it's a gift we should also give to others, and that gift is responsibility, accountability, but given with compassion and empathy. That's what makes it grace.
NP: So, in turn, how are you also extending grace to yourself?
KP: I have to do better with that, and that is by my own admission. Like many people who work really, really hard, I am hard on myself [as well], and I hold myself to a high standard. I don't get enough sleep because I'm always trying to get [something] extra, but I am really, really working on being more gracious with myself. To allow myself grace and time to heal.
I have found that I have a harder time forgiving myself when I know I've walked myself into something that I could have avoided throughout my life. And I say that to myself, as well as others that may have that issue. Because if God can forgive you, then who are you not to forgive yourself?
NP: I know this past year has been crazy for everyone. You have experienced a lot of challenges with losing your grandfather and your mother. How have you been able to push through that pain and continue life as an artist?
KP: I am pushing through it in life as an artist [because] it's the thing that's [really] helping me. What I really am going to take time to do later this year is take a break and allow myself with nothing else in front of me to heal and grieve fully. I acknowledge I haven't had an opportunity to do that because I lost my grandfather early in the pandemic last year, and I lost my mother at the end of last year.
My way to keep from sinking into a dark place was to push myself to get in the studio and finish this project. At the time, it was what I needed so that I didn't lose it after the year that we've had. But I feel I kind of need to slow down in the near future, Not right now because I am loaded with grace gas. It was a crazy year, but my faith gave me exactly what I needed to complete what I believe is a passion project for me. Not just because of the music, but because of the message of grace that I really wanted to get out there to people. There's not enough of it in the world, and especially now more than ever, we have to give ourselves more grace and extend it to others in a way that we never had before.
NP: Do you think that's what led you to return to gospel?
KP: Yeah, I've only had one full-length gospel project ever, [which was] released 15 years ago. I never feel like it's a return to gospel, and it's weird because I didn't even realize that it had been that many years. I've still been very active in the gospel community, so church has never not been a regular part of my life. I've done guest spots through the years and worked with so many great gospel artists, so it didn't even dawn on me until I started preparing for this project that it had been that long.
Here we are all these years later with Grace, but [this time] I say it's divine timing, divine order. I couldn't have planned for a better time to release this project with this message.
NP: How has it been for you to be able to navigate between R&B and gospel in what a lot of people consider to be two separate genres?
KP: It has been a huge blessing. I say that because, in my heart and my spirit, I never felt like I needed to separate the preacher's kid, church girl, from the R&B professional. I was a background singer, songwriter, producer, vocal coach for many years before I got signed, got my own deal, and released my first project, Soul of a Woman.
But even from that project, at the end of it, there was a gospel song. I always included a gospel song because I felt like my messages, whether they were R&B music or gospel music, have always been a message of real life, faith, hope, and love. All of those things. We all live the things that I sing about. Whether you believe in God or not, none of us can be excluded from life's heartaches, headaches, disappointments, or going through problems with illness or death.
All of us do need to know that there's another side to it. We all need to hear messages of faith, hope, and love. So I never separated the two. Everybody's not going to get it, but for the most part, people that got me as the R&B artist understood that I couldn't be this caliber of R&B if I didn't have that church foundation.
NP: What else were you trying to accomplish this time around with this EP?
KP: Well, I knew I was going to name this project Grace. I named it after my baby sister, who I lost seven years ago on Easter Sunday. I wanted to really put some happiness and some joy back in people's lives. Some pep in their step. Some dancing in their feet, some joy in their hearts, and some clapping in their hands. This is an inspirational project that has one single like an R&B song on it because I didn't want to polarize any of my audience. It is a song celebrating love and thanking God for real love.
NP: Where did you pull some of those inspirational messages on the project from?
KP: Everything I know that I have experienced, everything I know that I've lived through, knowing that I'm not exclusive to the experiences I've had. But I know they are common to humankind. It doesn't matter your creed, your background, or socioeconomic standards. Again, certain things are common to people. The world right now is literally experiencing the same thing in varying degrees, but the same thing all over the world.
I wanted to take these experiences I've had and the lessons I've learned in them, along with my faith, and inject them into the world. People have been looking for answers, and I think it's necessary for us, as we extend grace, also to be giving in our experiences.
NP: I know you need to take a break this year, but what else can we expect from you?
KP: I'm still auditioning for film and that kind of thing. Acting has become my new love over the last five years, and I'm super excited about that. I'm looking forward to finishing the development of a couple of projects I've been working on and believing in God they get picked up.
I'm [also] pushing my producer hat. I had the opportunity to produce my "Dance Party" video, which resulted from being at home during COVID having to finish a season of Sunday Best last year from home. Corporate would not allow us to have people in our homes to do the setup. So each of the judges had to walk themselves through their own setup. But what it did teach me is setting lights up, cameras, computers, audio, and all of that stuff. And so I put it to use, literally, by the top of this year and produced my video. I got a new skill, and I want to put it fully to the test and try to get out there and shoot some of these developing ideas that I have.
NP: What's the next thing you would like to produce? Do you think there's a biopic in the future for you?
KP: A video from the project will probably be the next thing that I produce, but I would not blink my eyes or look in the other direction at a biopic. I think, especially throughout this press run, people have learned a lot more about me than they knew. I've been very, very candid and very, very open, which is necessary if you're going to talk about messages of faith and grace. If you can't say how you've had to use it in your own life, what are you really talking about?
I have opened up the doors to some of the secrets of my own life. To talk about ways that I needed grace extended towards me and going through dark periods in my life over the last few years—and dealing with so much death and that kind of thing in the family. With all of those things sitting in front of me, why not a biopic, series, or something. Something based on the many stories of my life, from being a preacher's kid who grew up in church to the industry girl whose voice was known everywhere but whose face and body was hidden. Then, breaking through and getting a deal and having to knock down some doors to change people's mindset about what artists look like and what they sounded like. I think people would be surprised to know the behind-the-scenes details of my life.