Learn more about this year’s performers below and tune-in on March 30th at 7pm for the 2nd She Is… Virtual Women’s Empowerment Summit!
Jekalyn Carr is a GRAMMY® Award nominee and GMA Dove Award-winning independent recording artist. She’s a profound speaker, entrepreneur, actress, and author. She has spent half a decade at the helm of gospel music charts. As a top selling recording artist, Jekalyn Carr has earned eight career Billboard #1’s before the age of 21, which includes her hit singles, “You’re Bigger” and “You Will Win” She burst onto the scene as a teenager as a highly sought after speaker and 2 years later at the age of 15 years with incomparable vocals and a distinguished grasp of gospel wisdom well beyond her years. The Billboard’s Top 5 single, “Greater Is Coming” is still being performed nearly a decade later. Ever evolving, Jekalyn debuted with a featured role on the OWN Television Network series “Greenleaf” and expanded her acting experience in the feature film, “Never Heard”. Her entry into the literary marketplace was heralded by her debut release “You Will Win!” “Inspirational Strategies To Help You Overcome” which was released in conjunction with the #1 Billboard song by the same title and premise which was recorded live at Praise in the Park.
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Raw, and deeply entrenched in unapologetic emotion, and soul. These are just a few words to describe the timeless sound of R&B singer-songwriter and producer, Tanya Nolan.
Not your average musical artist, Tanya’s impressive gift of a voice carries inspiration from an era when R&B was still known as Rhythm & Blues, she is influenced by icons such as Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, Minnie Ripperton, and Quincy Jones.
Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, Tanya is a self-proclaimed Southern girl through and through armed with Proclamations from the City of Houston as well as Galveston. Her unique musical journey began as a percussionist in her Middle School band which later evolved into her role as one of the first female frontline drummers at Grambling State University in Louisiana.
Continuing to break down barriers, Tanya’s route towards becoming a professional artist has been far from typical. First and foremost, Tanya is a hugely successful entrepreneur within the childcare services industry. She owns the largest upscale childcare learning facility in Galveston County, Aww Better Childcare Center. She also owns a Licensed Child Care Center for over 16 years in Galveston, TX Nolan’s Child Care Center LLC. Unable to ignore a divine calling to sing and produce music, Tanya’s business empire has enabled her to pursue a second career in music.
Tanya’s lyrical prowess often waxes poetic about love and joy, but also the pain and heartache that often intertwines with it. Her authentic words and relatable storytelling have attracted a strong following of loyal fans who listen to her music via top radio stations, satellite radio, in addition to national streaming platforms inclusive of Spotify, Apple Music, and iHeart Radio.
As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Tanya’s video treatments often reflect the romantic relationship between two women, with Tanya’s wife even starring as her love interest in her 2019 “All For You” video. Following the success of her songs “No Pressure,” and “Smile on My Face,” Tanya’s latest single, “Good Woman,” is gaining traction across national radio and debuted as the #2 most added song to R&B radio stations across the country. “Good Woman” is sure to become an anthem as many of Tanya’s fans will sympathize with the notion of having a partner who does not appreciate having “a Good Woman like me” as Tanya echoes throughout the melodic ballad.
When Tanya isn’t making and performing music, or planning her expansion of Aww Better Childcare Center, she enjoys mentoring younger artists, developing real estate, and spending time with her wife of 7 years.
Maranda Curtis stepped up to the microphone at the 34th Annual Stellar Awards to sing for the audience. With seven Stellar nominations (including Artist of the Year), and two Billboard #1 projects, it would seem that life was good. Except that it wasn’t. “As soon as I put the mic down and went backstage,” Maranda said, “I burst into tears.”
Few in the audience knew what Maranda was going through. Ten days earlier, on March 19, 2019, her mother Darlene had passed away. After arranging the memorial service, writing the obituary, and selecting her mother’s urn, Maranda had little chance to grieve before boarding a plane to the Stellar Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Maranda channeled her experience of loss and healing, and her steadfast faith, in Die To Live (Butterfly Works / Red Alliance Media / Fair Trade Services). Produced by Phillip Bryant released on February 18, 2022, the album is a mix of live (Recorded live at Rhema Christian Ministries in Toronto, Canada) and studio tracks. It represents not a departure from Maranda’s praise and worship style but an extension of her musically. “The album may feel new to some people, but it’s who I’ve been all along,” Maranda explained. “I’ve always been versatile and so I wanted to branch out and be creative.”
Maranda Curtis was born on August 4, 1979, in Miami, Florida, the fourth of seven children to W.S. and Darlene Curtis, former R&B singers who had their own groups. “I would sit in their rehearsals and listen to them sing,” Maranda recalled. “That’s how I learned to harmonize at an early age.” Given the variety of music in the Curtis household, Maranda’s favorite artists growing up ran from Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, the Emotions, and the O’Jays to John P. Kee, James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson, and the Clark Sisters. Today, she also finds inspiration from singers like Tasha Cobbs, Le’Andria Johnson, and Tim Bowman Jr.
In 2017, Maranda released her first EP, The Maranda Experience, Volume 1. To her pleasant surprise, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. Her next project, 2018’s Open Heaven – The Maranda Experience, featuring the BMI Trailblazer Award-winning composition, “Nobody Like You Lord,” also hit #1. Stellar nominations poured forth.
Maranda prefers the live recording experience. “I’m getting use to the studio feel, and I’m grateful for its versatility, but there’s something about being in the presence of people and seeing God manifest in people’s lives. You can feel the energy in the room when people cry out and praise God.”
“Lazarus”, the first single from Die To Live, was released last September. Other standout songs include “Sparrow”, “Die To Live” , “Freedom Song” and others. After sorrow comes joy, and the countrified Sparrow is a musical salute to Maranda’s adopted hometown of Nashville. Brian Fitzgerald on fiddle and Brennan Ernest on banjo bring a Grand Old Opry feel to this recalibration of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” For Maranda, it is “one of the happiest songs I’ve heard.”
“People know me for praise and worship,” Maranda said, “but I wanted to use this opportunity to express my musical versatility. Still, if I don’t see myself in a song, I don’t sing it. People identify with honesty and with real emotions, and the past two years have been the most realistic for me. My mother’s passing, the pandemic—it can’t get more real than that. This is my reality, but it is many people’s reality. I want everyone to know that it’s okay to feel and also that there’s a Savior to run to.”
A scripture passage is associated with each of the 15 compositions on Die to Live. “The one that sticks out the most for me,” Maranda said, “is John 12:24: ‘Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ In other words, for there to be a resurrection, there must be a death. Not a physical death, but a dying to oneself, a sacrificial life.”
Die To Live is Maranda Curtis’s latest experience. “Grief comes in waves,” she said. “I’m still going through it. But it’s okay. It’s a journey.”
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