Armed with intricate harmonies, soaring vocal displays, and an incomparable arsenal of melisma and vocal acrobatics, dynamic gospel girl group Zie’l have consistently wowed audiences since their mid-2000s debut ‘Genesis’.
Blasting onto the scene with a well-received, high-spirited remake of the Clark Sisters classic ‘Is My Living In Vain’, the Louisianian league of songstresses quickly earned praise amongst gospel’s leading performers – including the Sisters themselves. Since then, a list of line-up changes and solo ventures may have temporarily halted the songbirds’ perch atop gospel charts, but now – with new tune ‘Redeemed’ – it seems the trio is ready to soar again.
Dishing on their new music, group changes, and so much more, click below to read one of gospel’s hottest girl group’s exclusive interview with That Grape Juice:
TGJ: So, as fans of you ladies ourselves, we must ask: where you have ladies been? Gospel fans were loving your debut album, then there was an unexpected hiatus.
Christina: We’ve been at home (laughs)! We’ve been doing our own things like school, working, being a full time mom, all that. We’ve been tending to family things, but now we know it’s time for us to do what we were called to do.
TGJ: Ok, so now that leads us to your hot comeback single ‘Redeemed’. Why did you guys feel this tune was the best way to reintroduce yourselves to the music scene?
Crystal: We wanted to come back with something that people weren’t expecting us to do! So, when we heard ‘Redeemed’, we knew we had to jump on it. We love it! Also, it fits us very well.
TGJ: We can attest to that! So, we know the EP is due summer 2013, but how is it coming along? Any working titles?
Keyondra: We don’t have a title at the present time. Right now, we’re in the studio planning and concerned with getting the whole project done. We’ve kind of tossed some names around like ‘Genesis 2’.
We’ll just see how everything turns out.
TGJ: Now, Keyondra, tell us about artistic growth from your first album to this one. What makes the two different from each other?
Keyondra: Well, we’ve always had the [vocal] acrobatics and you’ll still get the soulful sound that you’re used to, but now we have substance. We were once just known as “those girls that can sing” and we accepted that. Yes, we are those girls, but now we are the girls who have substance, God, and have a story to tell.
Not only substance, but now experience.
TGJ: What about the production tip? Sonically, what are you going for this time around?
Crystal: J. Skills is on the album and produced our first single. Big ups to him! We appreciate him going the mile with us. And, while there are other people, we want their names to remain a secret. We want you guys to be surprised.
TGJ: We will definitely keep our eyes and ears open for who that might be. But, since the album is still in its development stages, who would you say are any dream collabos you’d add if you could – singers and/or producers?
Christina: The list goes on and on! I don’t want to ever limit Zie’l to just gospel producers. We all would love to work with songwriter TC, Darkchild, and it would be cool to do something with Kierra Sheard as well.
Keyondra: I would definitely like to work with Darkchild. As far as singers, I love Brandy. I love her vocals and everything about her tone. It would be awesome to hear her do a gospel song with us. Also, Fantasia! I love her voice.
Crystal: I agree with Christina and Keyondra with Darkchild. I would have to say someone like Kirk Franklin, too. Also, the Walls Group and the lead singer from Forever Jones! I love them! They are dope.
TGJ: We could only imagine how great any of those collabs would sound. Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you. You ladies ready?
TGJ: #1) We see you ladies are now a trio. What happened to former fourth member Aphten Jones?
Keyondra: She decided that she would like to continue in the ministry with her husband. He is a pastor at their church and we just had to be ok with that.
Change is good. It’s not like she won’t be ministering or walking in her calling, but, of course, we have to continue on. Everything is cool.
TGJ: #2) What does the name “Zie’l” mean?
Crystal: “Achieving goals through Christ”. It’s of German origin.
TGJ: #3) With groups like Mary Mary and even the legendary Clark Sisters seeing their members release solo records (while still maintaining the group), is that something Zie’l has ever considered?
Keyondra: I released a mixtape last year called “Soul Couture”. I thought that would kind of get me out there as a writer/arranger. I feel now that Zie’l is where I belong. I don’t want to entertain being a solo artist now because I feel that that would take away from Zie’l’s.
I know in the future that door will open and I’ll walk through it once we’ve done all we want to do.
Christina: I also did a small project on my own. I’ll be honest…it’s boring (laughs)! I can’t entertain being a solo artist considering the doors God has opened for us.
TGJ: #4) Why gospel music versus the secular route?
Christina: I love gospel. I love God. That’s what we grew up knowing. Don’t think we didn’t want to go the secular route when we were younger. But, we had that discussion with our parents and they flat out said “no.” I’m glad they did.
Not saying there is anything with secular, but depending on how strong your walk is with God, there’s no telling what you would do when your placement is correct. Gospel all the way.
Crystal: Why not gospel? I grew up listening to the Shirley Caesars, Thomas Dorseys, etc. That’s what I know, so its deeply rooted in me.
TGJ: #5) Last, but not least, what’s your favorite song of your own?
Crystal: “Worship Thee”! That’s my song! It just puts me in the mood for worship when I hear it!
Christina: My favorite Zie’l song has got to be ‘Send Me’. It’s a wonderful song that I believe has crossover appeal – not just with its sound, but also lyrically.
Keyondra: Even though it’s not ours, I love our remake of the Clark Sisters’ ‘Is My Living In Vain’. The message is a great and I really love singing that song.
TGJ: Thanks for answering those ladies. Now, bringing this all home, what does the rest of 2013 have in store for Zie’l?
Keyondra: We’ve been talking about some things, but mainly thinking heavily on reality TV. We think that will help give us an opportunity to be more personal, one-on-one with fans letting them know who we are exactly.
TGJ: We will definitely have our eyes and ears open for that one. Tell our readers where they can go to learn more about you ladies.
Interview by: Rashad Taylor (That Grape Juice US)