Psalm 98:4 instructs us to “burst into jubilant song with music.”  The gospel troupe, Zie’l (pronounced Zeye-El) is doing just that as they burst onto the music scene with the release of their debut gospel album, “Genesis.” 

The group’s members include Christina Bell (contralto), 21, and sister Crystal Bell (soprano), 23; Aphten Jones (soprano), 23; and Keyondra Lockett (alto, contralto), 22.  All were born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana; and grew up as members of the Bright Star Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA, where they met and later decided to form a gospel group.  For as long as they can remember, these young women have been actively involved in their church community, and can recall singing in various choirs, festivals, and other community events.

Inspired by artists such as The Clark Sisters and Tonéx, Zie’l’s album, “Genesis,” prominently displays the group’s versatility and vocal abilities.  “Genesis” incorporates the rich sounds of traditional gospel music with a jazzy soulful mix of R&B.  Christina explains, “We all have our different flavors, styles, and textures.”  And with this, each young lady adds her own spice and flavor to Zie’l’s lyrical gumbo.

The group’s name, Zie’l, is of German origin and its English translation means “achieving goals.”  The name originated when Aphten Jones and one of the group’s former members, Undrea Northcutt, visited Zie’l, a California clothing store and found inspiration for the group’s name on the marquee.

Singing together for over nine years, the group began actively pursuing their music careers while participating in various events in their hometown.  As the sole gospel music act, they were awarded 3rd place for their performance in the talent show of a local radio station, KMJJ – Shreveport, LA. Considered one of the group’s first major gigs, Christina recalls, “We were excited…even when we got small engagements, we were excited.”  In 1999, Zie’l performed in the Gospel Workshop of the Americas New Artist Showcase in New Orleans, LA.   After a local radio audience witnessed the musical ministry of Zie’l, the group was introduced to Pastor Kenny Bobien, and they were featured on his self-titled CD.  Zie’l’s first CD, “Give Him Your Heart Today,” was a local project released in December 2002.  In 2004, the soulful songbirds also appeared on Odyssey Sound Lab’s Gospel Artist United release. 

During their career, the group has shared the stage with many gospel recording artists including Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark-Sheard, Vickie Winans, Donnie McClurkin, and Kurt Carr, just to name a few.  The ladies of Zie’l also had an opportunity to perform with recording artist Micah Stampley.   

When they’re not singing, these college students also have their sights set on obtaining academic degrees in fields ranging from elementary education and telecommunications to business management.  As hobbies they enjoy bowling, reading, swimming, traveling, and “ministering to others about God.”

Ultimately, Zie’l’s primary goal is to touch and inspire all audiences through their music, regardless of age, gender, or race.  Keyondra proclaims, “We want people to be saved, healed, and delivered from bondage.”

It’s time for the world to get ready for Zie’l, because these young ladies come packing a powerful punch through their melodies of inspiration.  With voices so magnificent, “they could get the devil himself to change his ways,” says one critic.

 
 

 


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