In his search for fame, the singer’s life has had its ups and downs, including addiction. But eventually, he arrived at an unexpected epiphany.
Since Rafael Kinard was a teenager, he has been passionate about music. People noticed his talent, and he even won a singing competition in high school.
Kinard grew up surrounded by Santería, spiritualism, and Tarot cards. He clearly remembers the day when his mother, Gloria Sánchez, told him he would be a famous singer while reading the cards.
Originally from Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Kinard moved to Fajardo when he was 13 years old. His childhood was difficult.
In the mid ‘90s, Kinard started his career in reggaetón as part of the duo Padrino & Shakeem. He was Shakeem.
They were part of an underground movement, before reggaetón went mainstream. The duo had gigs in fiestas patronales, was hired by politicians for events, and recorded some tracks.
One night, 11 years after his mother’s card reading, Kinard was doing a musical presentation for a local TV channel in San Juan. Their song, “Baila suelta,” was hot on the streets, so the duo started getting more exposure. After that appearance, they were supposed to sign a contract to participate in an important music festival.
By that time, Kinard was addicted to drugs, and after the TV appearance, he went to get a fix.
“I had a very strong addiction, so I left the station and went to get substances in a housing project. When I was leaving, the police arrested me,” Kinard told The Americano.
Kinard served a jail sentence, and from that experience, he learned to appreciate life. While in prison, he only had two hours a day to spend outside of his cell. Other convicts approached him to talk about religion, but he experienced a mix of emotions, particularly rebelliousness.
“I found myself in the cell. I had to confront myself. The rebelliousness, the loneliness, the bitterness, the hatred all visited me. I did not understand that this was God’s plan,” Kinard said.
“I found myself in the cell. I had to confront myself. The rebelliousness, the loneliness, the bitterness, the hatred all visited me. I did not understand that this was God’s plan. That was the only way God could save me,” the singer said.
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After six months in prison, Kinard was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. He spent his first days there in detox.
Kinard said that during those days in detox he heard a voice calling him. At first, he thought it was the spirit voices he had heard about when he was growing up.
“Even though I was raised with those beliefs, I began to rebuke the spirits. Then I heard the voice of God, who told me to go up to the chapel within the facility,” he said. “The second time I heard this voice, I got scared and went there.”
Kinard sat down in the last pew of the chapel and began to cry without knowing why. Pastor Edwin Mojica, who was ministering, called him to the altar. “Rafael I’m calling you,” the pastor said, according to Kinard.
The singer didn’t know why Mojica was calling him and how he knew who he was. Kinard says while he was walking down the hall, he began to hear a metallic sound like chains falling.
“When [Mojica] put his hand on me, God released me and dragged me like a snake. I was like drunk, foaming through my mouth,” Kinard said.
“When [Mojica] put his hand on me, God released me and dragged me like a snake. I was like drunk, foaming through my mouth. When the pastor said ‘bring him to me,’ God said, ‘I will put a new song on your lips. You will sing for my glory,’ ” Kinard said.
That experience changed his life completely.
When Kinard was released from the rehabilitation center, he joined the Dios Incorporada church in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Since then, he has been ministering, and singing sacred music.
In 2013, Kinard moved to Kissimmee, Fla., with his family, looking for better macular degeneration treatments. He has suffered from this eye condition since 2010.
The pastor is married to Omayra Román, with whom he has two daughters, Génesis Sofía, 23, and Adli Khamilah, 12.
In 2017, after 11 years of evangelical service, Kinard became a pastor of the Movimiento Profético NOB church, located in Saint Cloud, Fla.
“God never allowed me to have a boom in the urban genre. Whenever our career was going in the right direction, something happened. And this was because his purpose for me was another. He had a divine plan for me,” Kinard concluded.