He may only be 14 years old, but vocalist Robert Pierre has a calling to reach out to his generation and beyond with a message of hope, encouragement and salvation. It's a bold undertaking, especially for someone so young, but through each step of his journey thus far, the hand of providence has opened one door after another beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
Robert has been singing around the house since age four, joined his first choir by five and has participated in his church's annual Christmas pageant "The Singing Christmas Trees" in front of over 50,000 parishioners. However, the path to his debut CD Inside Out, which releases November 7, 2006 on thinkaboutit records, actually began in 2005 when a special guest, celebrated contemporary Christian artist Al Denson, led worship at Robert's school. To help engage the kids, Denson, an artist in residence at the Pierre family's home church, asked the students to point out the best singer in the school, and all of Robert's classmates pointed in his direction. Denson called the young man onstage to join him for a song and was overwhelmed by the results.
A few days later, Robert's parents threw him a surprise 13th birthday celebration packed with family members, spiritual mentors and church friends, including Denson. Recognizing the milestone in the young man's life, the purpose of the ceremony was not only to build him up spiritually, but to remind him to always seek God's will and look to his mentors for spiritual counsel. That night, Denson pulled Robert's parents aside and suggested that they let him take Robert into the studio to record a few songs.
"It was just before Christmas, and we decided to record three songs to put in the cards my family was sending out," says Robert. "We really just meant it to be for the cards, and there was this neat little story behind it. But then a local Christian radio station started playing it."
With no promotional push around it, what started as local airplay for Robert's cover of the Christmas classic "We Three Kings" soon ballooned into hundreds of stations across the nation spinning the song throughout the 2005 holiday season. As a result, DJs requested interviews with Robert, and the worldwide ministry Daystar Television even had the newly-turned teenager on air to perform.
"‘Wow' is really all I can say," offers Robert, chuckling at the memory of occasionally being able to take a few minutes out of school to interview with radio programs all across the country. "I was excited about debuting the songs in the chapel at school, which I thought was so cool, but then all these radio stations started picking it up -- that was totally unexpected!"
Though it may not have been planned by Robert, it was clearly a God-ordained direction that impacted listeners all across the country. His parents were flooded with requests to purchase the project, but with Christmas only a few days away, they decided to put up a last-minute website and allowed fans to download the songs for free. Several thousand downloads later, Denson came back to the family and suggested that Robert record a full-length album in 2006.
It may have been a dream come true for Robert, but even dreams come with a cost. With the recording already under his belt, performance prep and promotion was next on the agenda. Robert was getting ready to start school and football and knew he had a major decision to make. Would he be able to juggle his regular studies, piano lessons, a demanding football schedule along with his new music commitments, or would something have to give to achieve a more manageable balance? He knew the decision was between his two biggest loves, pursuing football or his music, and this was a thought process he didn't take lightly.
"I actually prayed about it morning and night for three weeks and spoke with my parents and spiritual mentors," he reveals of the difficult decision. "I waited for God to answer, and I actually didn't play football because I have such a busy schedule this fall. It's going to be tough to see all of my friends playing football without me. But, I know that with every good decision there's a sacrifice, and I believe that following what God is calling me to is worth it."
That maturity translated to the 12 choice cuts on Inside Out, which showcases Robert's incredible vocal range, along with a series of subjects relevant to his core audience. For tweens, typically thought of as ages 8-12 and an age demographic that is consistently being thrown product marketing that touches on adult themes and sensuality at a very early and impressionable stage of life, Robert is a breath of fresh air, following the call to serve the Lord in song and positively influence his peers.
"I believe that God has a plan for this album-we've seen so many doors opening," Robert relates. "I want to honor God with my music and my ministry. I want to offer an alternative to what students are currently listening to by giving them positive things to think about."
The album touches on themes of God's love ("God Is Love"), the difference one person can make ("Reach") and walking by faith ["On Faith Alone I Stand (Sola Fide)"]. The song "Think About It" tackles the timely discussion of evolution vs. the case for a Creator. The first radio single, "Eternal" drives home the message that the only thing that lasts forever is God's love for us. Robert personally picked the songs to represent issues those in his age group are facing, while only singing selections he could wholeheartedly believe in.
"The album is about the choices you have to make," he explains. "People who aren't Christians can pick up the album and find upbeat songs they can get into. But there's also a message, which I hope they'll hear and accept as truth. For Christians, I hope it's an encouragement to continue to seek God's will for their life."
In a world where teen entertainers are often pressured to grow up quickly and become superstars overnight, Robert is perfectly content with taking one step at a time. He doesn't dwell on the future beyond the immediate album's release and has surrendered his future plans to God's timing.
"I don't know what's going to happen next," he says. "I'll do whatever God wants me to do, and it's His choice. So far He's opened a ton of doors, but no matter what happens, I'm in this for Him."