Soulful and sweet, singer-songwriter Karima also has a strong spirit. Through divine inspiration, unshakeable faith, and answered prayers, the artist has come full circle from a lofty career as part of one of gospel’s most popular vocal groups, to being a divorced single mother working in retail, to returning to the music she’s always loved to make. Karima’s latest venture is signing with DARE Records, and she says she is re-energized and ever- grateful for the gifts she’s been given.
Born and raised in the jazz mecca of New Orleans and sprung from the country cradle of Nashville, the talented vocalist is sharing her considerable gift of song once more. Karima
first found musical success as the co-founder and member of the enormously successful Gospel/Christian trio Virtue with two of her sisters and is currently keeping the faith as a unique artist in her own right. She calls her style “a soulful surprise,” adding, “I love singing, and so I don’t feel like there’s anything that God gives me that I can’t use in any particular genre.”
Her early career in the Gospel industry has been well-documented: One of six children, Karima Trotter began singing in church with her sisters. While attending Oakwood, a Seventh Day Adventist and a historically Black college and university in Huntsville, Alabama, she was called upon to put together a vocal group for a weekly Friday-night worship service. Karima quickly called on her sister Ebony and two other singing friends. The group eventually gained the attention of Tara Griggs- Magee, who signed the group Virtue to the then-burgeoning Gospel label, Verity, in New York City. The membership evolved to a trio that would ultimately feature Karima and her sisters Ebony Holland and Heather Martin.
Karima recorded seven studio albums with Virtue, beginning with their self-titled debut, Virtue (1997), Get Ready (1999), Virtuosity (2001), the Dove Award-winning album Free (2003), Nothing But The Hits (a compilation album, 2004), and, after signing with producer Fred Jerkins III’s Darkchild Gospel in 2004, they released
the Grammy Award-nominated Testimony (2006). The trio’s many hits included “Lord I Lift My Hands,” “Let The Redeemed,” “Greatest Part of Me,” “Get Ready,” “Angels Watching Over Me,” and “Put Your War Clothes On,” to name a few. At this point, the group took a well-deserved break from recording and performing.
Karima was also married to Joel Kibble, a member of the Grammy-winning sextet Take 6 (also formed at Oakwood College) in 1997; unfortunately, by 2009, the couple had agreed to an amicable divorce. With Virtue on hiatus, Karima was forced to reinvent herself. “I had to fend for myself; I didn’t know what to do, and I have to keep singing. So, God, you’re going to have to show me and lead me to the right people.” Terrell King, a devoted Virtue fan who happened to be an Atlanta-based songwriter-producer, reached out and offered to record a solo project with her. The result was her 2009 solo project Just Karima.
Though the album didn’t take off, the experience was valuable. “I think I was nervous because I was so used to being in a group setting, that I forgot the prayer that I prayed over myself to be the singer that I’ve always wanted to be. And I thought that it was going to happen, and stay the way that it was with Virtue, but God always has a different plan. His plans are always greater than ours.”
In between, she polished up her sales and marketing skills, becoming a retail salesperson and even falling back on her culinary skills to launch a successful foodservice business. Karima says the idea for the business was a direct answer to a prayer. “Let me tell you, Soup Chic came about in a time, of course, of need. I feel like every time I ask God to give me something, He gives it to me.”
An unusual craving for chicken noodle soup one day led her to create her own recipe; while preparing to pick up her daughter and share the soup, she says she prayed again for direction and heard a message. “And all of a sudden, I hear ‘Fill the jars’ in the shower. And I’m just looking around like, ‘What the heck does fill the jars mean?’” Within the hour, she had deciphered the message, filling mason jars with her recipe, setting up a web page, and getting a friend to help with shipping. The Soup Chic business grew to include nine kinds of soup that she was shipping all over the country, garnering interest from supermarkets and specialty stores. But after two years, Karima says she became overwhelmed and decided to step back.
In the meantime, Virtue regrouped briefly with the success of Testimony Reloaded (2015) and the follow-up, Fearless (2016). But once again, life took a turn and Virtue retired. Karima’s resourcefulness kicked in once more, as she set her sights on becoming part of the retail and design team at a local branch of a high-end home improvement chain. But Karima says she never stopped thinking about returning to performing, her first love, though the timing was never right. After becoming a top- earning home furnishings design consultant, Karima says her thoughts – and prayers – focused definitively on returning to recording. “In August, I kept praying and walking up and down those hallways, and the urge to just sing again hit me. I said,
‘Okay, Jesus, come January, I do not want to be at [the store]. My new year cannot start like this.’”
Inspired by the success of fellow Gospel singers Juan and Lisa Winans, Karima says she noticed that the pair were signed to DARE Records. Once again, she focused her prayer energy on connecting with that specific label. In October, out of the blue, she received a social media message from the CEO and founder of DARE Records, Michael-Anthony Taylor. “I was checking my phone and I just happened to look at my messages, and I was like, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’ It startled me, and I just looked in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Really God, for real?’”
Karima’s debut single for DARE Records, scheduled for release on April 2, 2021, is her rendition of the Christian classic “Redeemer,” originally written and recorded by Nicole C. Mullen. Karima’s beautiful rendition is produced by Aaron Lindsey, a Grammy, Dove, and Stellar Award-winning artist, producer, composer, arranger, and musician in his own right. Karima says choosing to record one of her favorites seemed a natural choice. “We needed something familiar, and something that resonated with me,” she explains. “It was on my phone. I listen to it periodically, because it is such a testimony to how my life has been. God has been redeeming and been my redeemer for as long as I can remember.”
Karima credits her mother, Rebecca Mae Trotter, for sharing her strong values and unshakeable faith. She values her time with her 16-year-old daughter Karly, a talented visual artist; enjoys FaceTime with her sisters; and still loves cooking, shopping, and helping others become their best selves through a process she calls “Make It Rain Sunshine.” But making music is her divine calling.
“I love how singing makes me feel,” says Karima, who has been singing since the age of four, but realized she had something special when she was eight years old. “And it gives me joy to make other people happy.”