With Ezekiel as the frontman, the children perform in a musical group, God's Blessings, No Chains Holding Me Down. The group has appeared on the "Bobby Jones Gospel" show on Black Entertainment Television, on local media outlets and at churches across the region. Smith said she came up with the inspiration for such a group when she was homeless, as she imagined a better future.
God's Blessings is mostly a family affair. Ezekiel plays the drums and keyboard, as does brother Hezekiah, 13. Corinne, 15, is on the bass guitar, and Micah, 7, sings, with a mischievous spirit, along with his siblings. The group recently added a fifth member, Jasmine Megginson, 10.
But the group isn't really about the music, Smith said. It's about the Gospel, and the message the children can spread. "These children are not entertainers or performers. They are music ministers," she said.
The music is catchy and smooth. A performance can start with a rap and end in a Jackson 5-style harmony. The children come up with the lyrics and melodies, Smith said, and she hopes that they can land a big-league recording contract. She has posted her videos of their performances on YouTube.
One spring day, Ezekiel, his brothers and sister, Smith and the children's stepfather, the Rev. Vasconcellas Smith, stepped into a white limousine driven by a relative who is a professional driver, and headed to a nearby elementary school to welcome Jasmine into God's Blessings. The class was expecting them.
But first, the family greeted surprised staff members in the main office. "Sing, children," Smith told them.
Dressed in white suits, they lined up by height and started in on an a cappella version of their song "New Attitude" ("I got a new walk/ I got a new talk/ I got a new personality"). The performance included dance steps and hand motions. A school administrator wondered aloud what was going on.