Shelia Moore-Piper: The First Lady of Christian Soul (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell12 Minutes

John Farrell: What inspired your single “Let’s Celebrate”?

Shelia Moore-Piper: Last year, I was coming back from North Carolina. I was there for the S&M Gospel Awards, which I was blessed to win three of. I was there last year, and I knew I needed a Christmas single. I hadn’t put one out yet. I was talking to the Lord about it. When we got on the plane and got settled, the plane got ready to ascend up in the air, and the Lord says, “Take your pen and paper out. You’re going to write this song. Let’s write the song for the Christmas single.”

I wrote the song, and by the time we landed in my hometown, the song was written. We released the Christmas single on December 10th.

My husband said, “We’re going to do a spinoff of ‘C’mon Let’s Celebrate.’ We’re going to do ‘Let’s Celebrate,’ and we’re going to add the instrumentations and horns and things like that.”

I’m a horn person. I love horns, and I love instrumentation, as well as vocals. We decided to release the song, “Let’s Celebrate,” this year. It was a spinoff of the Christmas single. The Christmas single was released December 10, 2019, and the Lord said, “Release ‘Let’s Celebrate’ July 10, 2020.” I said, “Okay.”

That’s what we did, and that’s how the song came about.

JF: What is the message you want your fans to take from “Let’s Celebrate”?

Shelia: I didn’t know at the time that I was writing “Let’s Celebrate” that last year was going to be an adversity year for me. My pops got really sick. Thank God he recovered and the Lord healed him. We had to go through several things. He had a stroke. We closed his business because he had a music business that I used to help him run. I’m a teacher as well. So, I had to really prioritize my time where I could be there with him and part-time teach, and all that kind of stuff. There was just a lot going on; I would say an adversity type of year.

The Lord gave me “Let’s Celebrate” to let me know that just because stuff goes on it doesn’t mean that it’s the end. We still celebrate. And we still celebrate the goodness of the Lord. His grace, His mercy, His love. His grace is a blessing to us every day. The gift that He gives — the gift of unmerited favor. The grace that He gives to us every day to be able to go through and walk through any hardships, whatever’s going on. I did not know when He gave me the song last year that it was going to be so needed for 2020.

When 2020 hit and we were about to release “Let’s Celebrate,” there was so much going on with the pandemic, being on lockdown, and now everybody has to do something different. We’re not doing the norm anymore. We have to wear masks. Some of us have to wear masks and gloves. First responders in the hospital have to be shielded up from head to toe. From stuff that’s going on and from people in their jobs and situations and things changing, there’s just a lot of stuff going on. And from people passing away. I have had several people that are considered matriarchs to me in the body of Christ who we have funeralized within the last two to three weeks.

I was driving one day and I was like, “Lord, how can we celebrate?” The song had come out and people loved it and I’m still like, “All this stuff is going on. How can we celebrate?” I put on an old tape that I had from when my church, Lakewood, was at the old location, and our praise and worship leader at the time, Gary, sang a song called “Celebrate Jesus Celebrate.” It’s an old praise and worship song. When I heard that song, I started singing and I was like, “Oh, now I get it. The celebration of Jesus doesn’t stop just because you have stuff going on. We still have to celebrate Him.”

JF: And you celebrate Him even when times are tough or when times aren’t normal like 2020.

Shelia: Yes. Because it’s not like He didn’t know that this was going to happen.

My parents always said, “The Lord already knew.” Now, for us, it may be an “aha” kind of moment. But for Him, it’s like He knew this was going to happen. You may not have known about it, but He knew about it. So, it’s not a surprise. Even in the midst of everything, we still celebrate Jesus as hard as it is.

I know tough situations and circumstances can get very difficult and have been very difficult and things are changing and some things are not going to be back to normal ever again. I think we’re going to be wearing masks for awhile, but we can still wear our masks and celebrate Jesus and wear our gloves and celebrate Jesus. I still celebrate Him anyhow.

Creating Beautiful Music

JF: Amen.

What was the creative process like for writing and producing this song? And who, if anyone, did you collaborate with on “Let’s Celebrate”?

Shelia: I do a lot of collaboration with my husband. My husband and I are partners — Bdm/Ugroove Music. We do a lot of things together. We worked together to get it out.

I had a couple of background singers that were on it that were amazing. I also had to do backgrounds for the record. But the horns — Nothing but Soul Horns. They always do my horns for me. Horace Alexander Young. He wrote the horn parts out. I also had Andre Hayward on trombone and Myron Jackson on trumpet and James Murphy did the alto and tenor sax. They were the ones I collaborated with the horns. They’ve done so much stuff. They’ve done horns for my other records as well.

That pretty much was the only thing, but my husband and I were really the key factor — and Jesus in the middle, of course. But we were pretty much the key factor in getting it done and producing it and putting it out.

JF: How does this song differ from your previous single, “Get Excited,” and your previous albums?

Shelia: I’m thinking, ‘God, you always give me these songs with these catchy titles like ‘Dance’ and ‘Get Excited.’’ “Get Excited,” which my husband wrote, was one of those songs that when God had me record it, He said, “I want my people to get excited about Me. They get excited about everything else. I want my people to get excited about Me.” So, I said, “Okay.”

When I released the song, I said, “Who’s going to listen to this song?” But that song is still getting airplay. People still love “Get Excited.” For the people who haven’t heard “Get Excited,” when they hear “Let’s Celebrate,” they go back and listen to “Get Excited.” When they go back and hear “Get Excited,” they say, “We want both of them. I want ‘Let’s Celebrate’ and I want ‘Get Excited.’”

“Let’s Celebrate” is different, but it kind of ties into it as well. Because once again, we’re talking about getting excited about the Lord’s goodness, about His mercy, about His love for us, and now we’re saying let’s celebrate the Lord’s goodness and His love and His mercy for us. So, it kind of ties into some of the records I’ve done.

JF: How would you describe your music?

Shelia: I’m definitely Christian Soul. I was told that years ago. My husband said, “Babe, you’re in a category all by yourself. You’re a Christian Soul artist.” I was like, “Father God, what does that mean? And who’s going to listen.” The Lord was like, “Don’t worry about it. They’re going to listen. As long as you say my name, and God be lifted up, I’ll draw the people. Don’t worry. You just do what you’re supposed to do with the music, and I’ll draw the people.”

He has kept His promise because sometimes you think songs aren’t gonna go because I’m different and I’m not like everybody else, but the Lord told me, “I don’t want you to be like everybody else. I made you different. You’re unique. I didn’t make duplicates of you. You are unique. So when you put your stuff out, you be unique with it.” I have stayed true to that. I stayed true to just being me.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of Shelia Moore-Piper’s Interview

Featured Image Credit: