She is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. In 2004, she participated on America’s Most Talented Kids and won, beating out musician Hunter Hayes. She first gained national recognition after posting videos of herself singing on YouTube as a teenager, and after appearing as a semi-finalist on the ninth season of American Idol in 2010. After signing with Capitol Records in 2013, her debut studio album Unbreakable Smile, released in 2015, peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States with its lead single, “Nobody Love”, marking her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She was subsequently nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Grammy Awards, and voiced Meena in the animated film Sing. Her second studio album Hiding Place, released in 2018, peaked at number 35 on the Billboard 200 chart and garnered her two Grammy Awards, for Best Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance/Song respectively. Though her career is still on the rise, she is already also winner of a BET Award, Billboard Music Award, Billboard Women in Music Award, Glamour Award, and GMA Dove Award among others.
She is a singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. She has sold more than 50 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. She has received nine Grammy Awards as well as thirty Grammy nominations, and she is the only artist to have won Grammys in the R&B, Rap, Pop, and Gospel fields. Eight of her albums have reached multi-platinum status in the United States. According to Rolling Stone, Time, and Vibe Magazines, her album “My Life” is considered among the greatest albums ever recorded. In 2007, she was named to TIME Magazine’s 100 list of influential individuals around the world. Alongside her success in music, she has earned high remarks for her work in film. In 2007, she starred in “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” and “Rock of Ages.” She received two Golden Globe Awards for her musical contributions to the films “Bobby” and “The Help.”
Although she grew up in Pentecostal churches and got her singing start there, she says, “I wasn’t a Christian when I was a child, I just went to church. I understood from childhood that there was something really big watching over me and it was God. And I was afraid to steal and lie. I was afraid to do anything that was wrong. I always got this feeling like, ‘Uh oh.’ But I understand better now who God is now that I’ve become a woman and a Christian.”
She went on to say, “It was later [in life], when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, that I found out who I am. I’m a child of God. God is my mommy, my daddy. That’s the only thing that’ll keep my head up. If I don’t remember who I am in him, I’m done….When I became a Christian, it was something I had to do because my whole life as a young adult was so bad. Things were just so bad that when I decided to make a change in my life, I went to God about my life. And he led me to other Christians, like my husband, like my pastor. And I started studying the Word. Now I get it. I understand it more, through the Word. That’s why I know God is love.”