She’s only 21 years old, but Jekalyn Carr is a motivational speaker, preacher, author and Grammy-nominated singer who wants everyone to win at life. Born in West Memphis, Arkansas, Jekalyn (pronounced Jeh-kay-len) knew early on that she had a gift for singing and by the time she was 13, she was sharing her music and motivational message with audiences across the country.
Her album “One Nation Under God” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Album chart and her latest hit single “You Will Win!” offers encouraging lyrics in the face of life’s challenges. She also wrote the book “You Will Win: Inspirational Strategies to Help You Overcome” that offers practical methods to help move through adversity and maintain a winning attitude.
With some 460k Facebook followers and more than 269k Instagram followers on her verified accounts, Jekalyn certainly seems to be winning. She just returned from an international youth conference in South Africa and her first annual You Will Win Conference in Mississippi.
Homegirl Talk caught up with this non-stop dynamo who has plenty to say when it comes to making your dreams come true.
Your whole message revolves around the theme of winning. When and how did that emerge as the primary focus of your work?
I always believed that my purpose was to help get people to see who they really are and the successful life they were born to live out. I desire to see others win in life. Understanding that you were not created to just wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV and go back to sleep, but you were born to live a life of fulfillment and joy in your career, health, family, finances and more! Not only do I make them aware of that, I also through my messages and music like to teach them how to go about doing it.
Tell us about your book “You Will Win: Inspirational Strategies to Help You Overcome” and how it came about.
I wanted to give people valuable life-changing information that has helped me win in life so far. There’s no age restriction–this book is for everyone who desires to win in any particular area of their lives from their dreams and purpose to health, finances and more! One thing I start the book off with is teaching you the true definition of a win. You can’t compare your win to someone else’s win or even a natural game because in a game only one team/person can win. But everyday as you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you win EVERY DAY. Whether your win is getting your joy back, learning balance or even finally writing that book, you cannot overlook your wins from the smallest to the greatest. Each win deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated! Most importantly, in order for you to live like a winner you have to THINK like a winner. You cannot have a defeat mindset and expect to be victorious.
I read that you were only five years old when you realized you had a gift for singing. Do you remember what that was like at such a young age?
I remember telling my parents that singing was my passion because I loved it so much. Everytime you turned around I was singing. I’ll never forget when I was around four or five years old, the adult choir was in rehearsal one night and they were singing, but they were singing out of key. So I stopped them and said, “You all are out of key!” Then I gave them their correct keys. It was unusual considering the fact that I was so young. That night was kind of the official assurance that singing was what I’m supposed to be doing.
Even though I don’t listen to it all the time, I love gospel music, especially classics like “Oh Happy Day,” “Goin’ Up Yonder” and “How Great Thou Art.” Why do you think gospel music is so powerful?
I think gospel music is powerful because the messages within it give people hope. Whenever someone hits a rough patch in life most of the time they’ll turn to gospel music for encouragement. I remember saying that I wanted to give people music that’ll bring some light on the positive versus the negative; music that’ll push you to grow in life.
I’m someone who grew up in church, so I was always aware of being a Christian in a secular world. But it actually seems like it’s harder these days because there are many people who call themselves Christian who do not exhibit any Christ-like qualities. In fact, they often espouse bigotry, misogyny, hatred and racism. What do you think we can do in order to build more bridges among people?
I think the key to that is this one word: Love! You’re supposed to love your neighbor just as you love yourself, so if you mistreat or disrespect your neighbor that means you don’t think much of yourself. Also you have to treat people the way you want to be treated not the way you have been treated. You can’t spend all your life angry and bitter and trying to get back at people who hurt you or did something wrong to you. As hard as it can be, you just stay kind and positive and continue to treat others with respect and you’ll be rewarded!
In “You Will Win” you sing, “I know you’re hurt, I know you’re torn, I know you’re broken, But you will win; All of those may be facts, But the truth still remains, That in the name of Jesus, You will win!” Is it possible to overcome and win in life without faith in God? What about those who don’t find comfort or meaning in religion or a faith-based belief system?
When you have God it makes it even better for you to live a winning life because your true happiness does not come from things, people or your accolades–it comes from God. When things or people fail you, you’re still winning because God will be there and can cause you to regain what you’ve lost and more.
As a young woman, how important is it for you to serve as a role model for other people your age?
It’s very important and I’m very passionate about it. I get so many young and old saying how much my life has inspired them. I desire to show them through my life that it is possible for a person to live a successful life without having to compromise or give up the right for the wrong. You don’t have to compete to be on top, you don’t even have to sell out to be on top, because you were made to be on top anyway. It’s all about working and waiting for your time and season. Don’t let impatience or anxiousness cause you to make decisions that you’ll regret in the future.
What’s been the most surprising thing about being in the spotlight? What do you love about it and what are the challenges?
The thing I love about it is being able to help and inspire people all across the world. Believe it or not, I don’t really have any challenges other than early morning flights–I’m not a morning person, lol.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not on stage preaching or singing?
I love anything having to do with relaxation, like going to the spa or watching a good movie. I love hanging out with my family as well. I’m a huge makeup lover, so I love going to my favorite store Sephora.
You’ve met countless people as an evangelist, motivational speaker and music artist. What would you say is the number one challenge most people are dealing with and need help figuring out?
I think right now it’s accountability. In this day and age you have a lot of people surrounded by a lot of “yes” people where a lot of times their wrongs are “right,” anything goes and they’re never corrected by those they call friend, brother or sister. But I tell people you if you desire to be successful and stay successful you don’t need a lot of people in your corner, you just need the right people in your corner. You need people that will pull the best out of you and not the worst. Your true friends/brothers/sisters should be giving you advice that’ll help you grow, become better in life and add to your value. Also, it’s not just on them to give it to you, you also have to listen as well.
How do you define success and what is the key ingredient to achieving it? Can someone be successful without having material wealth?
I think that success is based on the person because we all have different dreams and desires in life. I know for me, I feel successful when I’m being all that I know I was created to be and helping others while doing it. Yes you can [be successful without material wealth] because true happiness is not in material things. There are people who have all the material things they can think of, and they’re not happy on the inside. You’re supposed to be able to enjoy life and family while accomplishing big things in life. Be happy inside out!
Who are some of the people you admire most in your life?
I would have to say my parents. They’ve taught me so much and I’ll never forget all the sacrifices they’ve made so I can be great in life.
When it comes to women, what would you say is the biggest challenge that’s keeping from us taking risks, living our best life and being fulfilled?
I think just having the huge belief that we CAN do it. So many times we’re reminded of society’s idea of the life of a woman and forget that we have what it takes (greatness) in us to not become a statistic. No, you don’t have to just sit at home and do nothing. You can start your business, write your book, travel and explore. You can do whatever you desire in life! It’s called “purpose.” If you’re married or have children there maybe different routes you have to take to make sure you’re balancing correctly and your family isn’t lacking your time and attention, but it can be done! I challenge you to discover who you are and what it is you’re supposed to be doing in life and don’t let anyone talk you out of it! It may be difficult at times as you’re working your dreams and purpose, but no one is going to believe in you like you. Keep going until you reach your finish line!
What’s next for you?
There are actually a few things that I’m working on that I can’t speak of just yet, but I am so excited about my new endeavors. To stay connected with me and be informed when they are released, you can follow me on all my social media: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Regardless of someone’s faith (or lack thereof), what’s the one Bible verse that you believe all of us can benefit from?
Philippians 4:13 (MSG): Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
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