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Murk In Season – Things are going from strength to strength for the rapper from Peoria

Murk pic 3The heartening rise of Christian hip-hop has just taken another giant stride forward with the release of ‘P31’ by female rapper Murk. If it seems easy for Murk to rhyme about God’s plan, it’s only because she’s seen it unfold – however winding the path –in her own life. If it’s effortless when she raps about being a Proverbs 31 woman (“Iller than Picasso/Yeah, I’m a work of art”) it’s only because she knows what it’s like to walk on the other side. And if she seems grateful? It’s only because she is. 

It’s been a winding path for the emcee. She discovered her love of theatre and performing on stage while living in Peoria.  Mercedes Wheeler, who goes by the name of “Murk” is the daughter of Michelle Wheeler and Lance Blake and the granddaughter of Joseph and Eleanor Wheeler and Effie Blake.  She attended both Roosevelt Magnet School and Peoria High School where she was involved in the performing arts. It was at PHS that Molly Burroughs, her high school drama teacher encouraged her to join the speech team where she learned how to do monologues. From there she went on to perform at Peoria Players in Anything goes and Sleeping Beauty and later in Who done it? at the Dinner Theatre.

In 2006, she moved to Florida with her mom after a death in her family left them feeling disillusioned and disappointed with God. It took her to a performing arts high school in Tampa, where she discovered street culture – the good and the bad – and where she fell in love with hip hop. It took her from one college major to the next, to a toxic group of friends, to a career she wasn’t sure she wanted.

“I got so burned out.  I just got frustrated,” she remembers. “I remember this one day when I was crying in my car, and I was like 20 years old, and I was just saying, ‘I don’t know what to do God.’”

Tensions at home had reached a breaking point, too. In the quiet after the storm, Murk’s mom turned to prayer and laid down one simple rule: if you want to live in this house, you must go to church. Murk agreed, though at first that Sunday morning routine didn’t do much to change her Saturday nights. She remembers the day when her direction really changed.

“I just knew I wasn’t happy,” she says. “I came home from church one day and I was just crying in my room, I was talking to God, ‘I just really want a relationship with you, to know you better, to change my life and start over. I just started confessing these things out loud, like ‘I am bold’ and ‘I am courageous’ and I remember this feeling came over me. It was a feeling of release of so much pain, and so much worry, and so much stress.”

After that day, a switch was flipped. Murk felt like that winding path was finally headed in the right direction – but God was just getting started.

Murk’s love of hip hop had never faded. When her mom tried to get her to listen to a Christian rapper she’d found online, Murk was skeptical. But the rapper was Lecrae and the mixtape was Church Clothes. “I was like, this is Don Cannon – this isn’t Christian music!” she laughs. “But then I started listening to his lyrics and I realized that it was, and it was really good.”

This wasn’t corny or cheesy – it was as good as anything else Murk had listened to, and she didn’t stop Murk pic 2listening to it for weeks. It wasn’t long before she inspired to start writing some verses again. Murk called her cousin, who was still making beats, and they worked on a track. When he posted a video of her rapping on YouTube, the reaction was instant.

“People were writing on my Facebook page, saying, “Oh, my gosh, girl! You can rap! You’re so good!’” she says. “And I was like, ‘I am?’ And after that the music started growing. I was writing songs all the time.”

Everything after that happened so fast that it should be a blur, but Murk remembers every detail. She wrote, constantly. She was inspired, constantly. In a matter of months she had dozens of songs, a few performances under her belt and an opportunity to compete for $5,000 and a record contract in Miami.
“At the time I had only been rapping for like five months,” she says. But it didn’t matter – the path was winding again and Murk wasn’t the one charting the course. She went on through round after round of competition and ended up taking the trophy – and meeting one of the judges on the final panel, Universal/Dedicated Music Group recording artist Mr. Del.

“Once I got through that first round of the competition it dawned on me that this could be it, this could be the moment and I needed to take it seriously and start confessing it,” Murk says.  “I had been speaking this stuff and I believed it. Where everyone else was just like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll win, we’ll see what happens’ – I had been talking to God and telling God I was going to win. I knew that faith was what was going to make it happen.”

It wasn’t long before the high of winning the contest was shattered as the promises started to unravel. Things didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped and she was left without a recording contract.

“I felt like, ‘Hey God, this whole time I’ve changed my life for you, this wasn’t even necessarily my dream. It was a calling. And then for this to happen?’” she says. “It was like everything that could go wrong, did. I was so frustrated, but there was something in me that was like, ‘Just trust God.’ If he wants this to happen then it is His responsibility.”

A few months later, Murk got a call from Mr. Del. She’ll never forget that day, because until the phone rang it was one of those days when every domino seemed to be falling on her, all in a row. Her car had broken down. Her bank account was in the red. She was no closer to that right path, she thought, than she had been before the contest.

“When Mr. Del called he said he just wanted to check in on me and see how things were going after the competition,” she remembers. “I told him what happened and he said he was glad that God put me on his heart and glad that he called me.”

The winding path had finally led Murk to Mr. Del and a deal with his label, Dedicated Music Group. In 2013, Murk and her mom gave away everything they owned and packed up – nothing but their clothes – into one car and moved to Memphis. Since then, they’ve watched as God has provided for their journey every step of the way.

“Murk does mean to kill,” she admits. “But God showed me that you have to kill your flesh daily in order to walk and be with Christ. I had to kill the old person that I was in order to be this new person.”

In the summer of 2014 Murk released her album Murk In Season (featuring the smash hit “P31”). After the viral success of her music video for “P31” it became clear that the Proverbs 31 woman was more than just an idea or a single song – it was a movement.

Murk pic 1The song “P31” has an infectious, repetitive hook that denounces artificial beauty and instead boasts in the inner beauty of being a Proverbs 31 girl/woman. The lyrics boldly share guidelines and standards that a virtuous woman of God should live by. It teaches women to respect themselves while also teaching men to respect women and their values. “It is the ultimate celebration of receiving salvation and a divine spiritual makeover from Christ. It encourages every P31 to get up, dance, and ‘go live,” says Murk.

With a deal with Dedicated Music Group, top rate production on her EP by beats maestro Mr. Del, and a viral success for the video for the track “P31” things are going from strength to strength for the rapper from Peoria, Illinois. After experiencing such great success with the “P31” song, she decided to turn P31 into a movement that would empower women of all ages. Murk released the “P31″ EP & P31 Devotional book in stores as well as on iTunes and Amazon on March 31st, 2015. She covers several topics familiar to young women including: self-esteem, forgiveness/grace, inner and outer beauty, finding one’s worth in Jesus alone among others.

Beginning March 31st, you will be able to purchase Murk’s EP, book, and other new merchandise from her online store at You can also follow Murk on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @murkp31.