HOUSTON Grammy nominee Kim Burrell, a Houston native and pastor, did not win the award for best gospel album. But to her, the music is about much more than the trophies.
Sometimes I sing more notes than what s normally heard on songs because the song is far more meaningful to me, said Burrell, a pastor at Love and Liberty church. Church and my voice has taught me a lot about why I have this voice.
Burrell s lesson began in Humble. Raised by evangelists, she was groomed to sing gospel. But it took 14 years and one memorable performance for Burrell to recognize her gift.
I ll never forget. Sing to the Lord a Brand New Song and I m just letting the praises ring and the people responded as if I d done something great. That s when I knew. I said, oh, I have something someone recognizes other than me, she said.
It still gives her goose bumps, mainly because she sees similar passion for music in her 9-year-old son Christian, who plays the drums.
His mother produced five albums.
Since the early 1990s, Burrell s been traveling the world singing gospel. She s also sung beside Stevie Wonder, Harris Connick, Jr., the late Whitney Houston and more.
But getting there almost cost Burrell her life.
My parents lost jobs staying home trying to get me well, said Burrell.
As a child she battled pneumonia for eight years. As an adult, bad eating habits led to three heart attacks before her 36th birthday.
I ve made a pact with God I wouldn t do that anymore. And since then I ve lost over 112 pounds in the last two years. And here I am. I know I never, ever would have been here without the help of God, she said.
If you hear conviction in her voice, it s no accident. Burrell considers it her testimony.
She says she s driven to change lives with her music.
I had an experience with a young man in Detroit who brought me his obituary. And at the time I was puzzled I said, what is this? Is this your twin? He said, no it s me. Because you sang, and I wanted to hear you before I committed suicide. But your last song to me told me not to commit suicide. So I brought this to you to say thank you because I didn t have to follow through with this, Burrell recalled.
For that reason, between juggling her life as a mother, pastor and singer, Burrell travels 300 days a year to use that evangelical voice for God.