Adam Shadden and Kidus Yared are cousins, born in Ethiopia and raised in London, UK. They serve the Lord through their music as the international award winning duo, Adam and Kid. Here is an interview they did exclusively with TYM.
Tell us a little about your background. How was it growing up?
Adam: Kid and I grew up in different homes; him with his family, and I with mine. But we were always close. We both grew up in a Christian Orthodox family. There was always prayer and fasting going on in the home. But it was always about religion, not relationship – all lips, and no heart. So, although we knew about God, we did not really know Him.
How did you get saved?
Adam: It’s actually funny how it happened at the same time with Kid and me. It was when we were both 21 years old. We didn’t come to the lord as Adam and Kid though, it was individually.
I remember one day when I just felt like I kind of knew God, heard about Him a lot but never really knew Him for myself. So that night, I prayed in my room saying I wanted to know Him more, on a personal basis.
Two days later, a friend from work said to me, “Do you know Jesus?” Right then, I remembered the prayer I had prayed in my room, and replied, “No, I don’t know Him.” So then, he told me that he would teach me about Him. I started learning. After a month, I got into a motorcycle accident. That incident shook and woke me up. During that time, I had a big record deal contract waiting on my decision. So I prayed to God to reveal to me His plan for my life. I asked Him for signs. Soon, I started having night dreams of singing in church. But I was still not persuaded to leave the contract. I asked for one more sign. Then one Sunday at church, the pastor, in the middle of preaching, told me, “You’ve been asking for a sign. God is telling you that there is a ministry that He has prepared for you.” So there I had it. After that, the rest was history!
How did the Adam and Kid Duo Begin?
Kid: It is possible to say that it began literally in the middle of the street! See, after we got saved, we both took some time off from making music. For around 3 years, neither of us made music; neither wrote nor produced. One day, as we were walking down central London, a place called Waterloo, we were beatboxing, singing and just freestyling. We were praising and worshiping Jesus as we were walking around, in our own way, with a chorus we had come up with. Soon people started to gather around us. We saw how much attention it had attracted. We saw how it caught people’s ears and the joy it had created within us. That’s when we realized that it was a great way to bring glory to His name and we could use our music to bring the knowledge of His marvelous light to others.
As artists, what is a time you look back on and consider as a great influence?
Kid: A lot people were huge influences in our lives and careers. A lot of people gave us words of affirmation and encouragement. One of the biggest though remains Martin Smith – the world renowned worship leader from the group Delirious.
In October 2011, there was a conference that Adam and I were ministering at in London. We had an amazing time of worship and praise! Afterwards instead of going to the back stage area, we went down into the crowds to join the next worship which was led by him, Martin Smith. Although he went up after us to lead worship, we had never met him before. He was a man of God we highly esteemed. Then, out of the blue, from the middle of all those people, he pointed to Adam and me and called us to stage. It was sudden and unexpected. We went up on stage, stood next to him totally caught off guard. He said, “You have a message for the people, you have something that God has put in you that you must share.” Right then and there, we went into a spontaneous praise! We had nothing prepared and so we just poured out what was in our hearts. The presence of God was heavy in that place. The place erupted! That day was a turning point in our lives where we realized to take what we had seriously. It was the push we needed to run a hundred miles per hour with the ministry.
Tell us about your song writing process and how one of your biggest hits Happy came to be.
Kid: What we try to do when writing lyrics is to do it together. But you never know when inspiration hits. So, usually, one of us comes up with the concept or an idea, and then brings it to the table so we can pray about it and work on it together.
Adam: Yes, and mostly, the songs we do are Christ-centered. Meaning, it’s focused on the works of Christ, what God does in our lives and the result of grace and favor. With Happy, it was different. I remember when I was at the gym one day and listening to Pharell’s Happy. I thought, ‘Wow! This song is really catchy.’ But the thing was, it didn’t quite explain why we were so happy. So I told Kid about it. It turned out he was on the same page as I was. So we decided to do our own version of the song that would actually tell the reason of our happiness, God. It says in the Bible in Psalms 92:4 and 126:2 about how God fills our mouths with laughter and that He makes us glad. We had a very great and fun time making the video too. It was a truly exciting experience. We had such a great time shooting it, traveling all over London. Everyone who participated in that video was from our church’s youth group. And as a result of it, we all grew together. It brought unity to our church. We enjoyed it very much!
What do you believe is the effect of music on society and what is the responsibility of an artist regarding it?
Kid: Music is very powerful. It has the ability to shape cultures, to influence people’s emotions and causes change in moods. Even in movies, more than what you see, the sound track that is playing will cause more of the emotion in you. It can be used in many ways. It is up to the artist to use that power wisely. I believe that music should come from within your heart, to share what God has to say through you. Music is also a craft that you make. Adam and I use Hip Hop mixed with RnB, pop and soul. But at the end of it all, we don’t want to just make music that sounds good to the ears, but that also carries a message within it. Then, beyond that message, it should also be backed by a godly character and discipleship of the artist. That is when the message can get through to people. So the most important responsibility of an artist would be to lead people into God’s presence, joy and liberty.
There is a big misconception, especially in the traditional community, where the Hip Hop genre in general is considered to be secular. What would you say about this?
Adam: I say that music is a moral – not good or evil. Hip Hop, just like any other genre, is too. But it becomes either one or the other in the hands of whoever uses it. As Kid mentioned earlier, it can be used in many ways. Just like any other instrument, it can be used for evil, violence and to promote ungodly behaviors, but it can also most definitely be used to give glory to God and share the good news as well. God created everything. This includes music; it includes Hip Hop and rap. So it should be used to glorify only Him, not money, sex, drugs, people… Just because its image has been tarnished in the past by wrong use does not mean it cannot be redeemed or used for Kingdom work.
Tell us a little about your recent tour in Florida.
Kid: Florida…we were invited by Revival Ministries to minister and lead worship at an event they hold quarter-annually. There, we did a one-hour concert. We had a truly blessed and phenomenal time! Then, our tour in Florida lasted for 10 days, where we did five different events.
That tour was actually a confirmation of a word we had received from the Lord. Around August last year, I had gotten a word from God that Adam and I had work to do in America. I had told Adam about it. It was around March this year that we got the call to go and minister in Florida. This is just the beginning though. We believe we have more work to do there!
What do you think is the most important lesson that you’ve learned that has helped you both in your career and walk with God?
Adam: The most important lesson I think we’ve learnt is humility, to stay humble at all times. God always honors the humble, not the proud.
Kid: Another thing we’ve learnt is to believe in God fully, trust Him and not worry at all. About anything. Once we put Him in the center of all that we do, then we have absolutely nothing to stress about – just being available and ready to be used by Him to bring Him glory and bring His people into His presence.
Congratulations on the award you guys received! Share with us a bit about that.
Kid: The GMA’s was a big honor. Adam and I were told that we were nominated in two categories, along with some exceptional artists. We didn’t expect to win at all; being nominated by itself was a big honor. We received the International Gospel Music Album of the year for our album I’m Free. We were really REALLY humbled by it. All glory be to God!
Is there another album on the way?
Kid: Yes, we are currently working on a new album. Although it is yet hard to say when, it will be coming soon. We are praying for God’s guidance through the process.
Is there anything you would like to say to the youth?
Adam: First of all, I encourage the youth to always seek Jesus first. Make Him the center of your lives. Once you do, God will reveal to you the amazing plan He has for your life – beyond what you could’ve come up with on your own. So remain focused and committed; eyes on Jesus. Those in music and worship, remember that God has a great destiny for you – greater than any you can imagine. As long as you put God first, He will take you to heights you could’ve never imagined. So stay focused. And stay focused on Him.
Kid: I would just like to tell you the youth that God loves you very much! Do not go elsewhere looking for approval, love or acceptance. You’ve already been accepted. Knowing this is what will set you free, and what will fill you with joy, love and peace. I want to see the youth rise up to be who God has called them to be. The enemy tries to make you feel as if you are so far from God that you can’t even approach Him. But the devil is a liar. You can come boldly to God because of grace. In Psalms 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Adam and Kid: We haven’t forgotten where we came from. We love our country Ethiopia and our nation Africa. God willing, we plan on coming back soon for a visit. We want to be blessings to our people!