The Clark Sisters are an
American gospel vocal group consisting of four sisters:
Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark-Terrell,
Jacky Clark Chisholm, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard.
sister, Denise Clark Bradford, no longer performs with the group.
The Clark Sisters are the daughters of gospel musician and choral
director Dr. Mattie Moss Clark
They are credited for helping to bring gospel music to the
mainstream and are considered as pioneers of contemporary gospel.
The Clark Sisters have won three Grammy
. Despite similarity in names, there is no connection
with the 1940s/1950's jazz quartet "The Original Clark Sisters
" (also known
as The Sentimentalists when they recorded with the Tommy Dorsey
The early years
The Clark Sisters were born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. They
each began singing at an early age and by the late 1960s they were
all performing together in church services, usually singing songs
written and arranged by their mother. A few years later, Dr. Mattie
Moss Clark turned over control of the group to Twinkie, who would
then go on to write, arrange, conduct and produce all of the Clark
Sisters recordings. In 1973, the sisters recorded their first
album, Jesus Has A Lot To Give
, on their uncle's local
label Billmo Records.
The following year, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark Presents The Clark
was released, and people around Detroit began to take
notice of the group. The Clark Sisters signed to Sound of Gospel
Records in 1974. Under this association, the group released albums
such as Unworthy
, Count It All Joy
, and He
Gave Me Nothing to Lose
. It was not until the early 1980s that
The Clark Sisters began to become the phenomenon that they are now.
Their popularity soared with the release of the live recording
Is My Living In Vain
. The album topped the Billboard
gospel charts for more than a year and
yielded now famous songs such as the title track and "Expect Your
Their next release You Brought the Sunshine
would prove to
be a monster hit as the title track, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder
's "Master Blaster (Jammin'),"
became a hit in church houses and on dance floors, including New
York's fabulous Studio 54. "Sunshine" was picked up from its
original independent gospel record label Sounds of Gospel and
distributed by both Westbound Records and Elektra Records. In 1983,
the song peaked at #16 on the Black Singles chart, #27 on the Club
Play Charts, and #80 on the Hot R&B Charts driving the album to
Gold sales. The sisters delivered another progressive effort in
, which included "Name It And Claim It" and
the politically-charged "World." After this release, sister Denise
left the group to become a minister and start a family.
After a four-year gap between releases, the sisters would continue
as a foursome, signing with Rejoice
, a division of Word
new deal yielded the Grammy-nominated Heart & Soul
(1986) featuring the mainstream single "Time Out." Next would
appear another studio release Conqueror
(1988) and the
live album Bringing It Back Home
Emerging solo artists
Following their last Word Records release, Twinkie resumed her
calling as a minister and recorded the independent solo album
in 1992. Jacky, Dorinda, and Karen stayed
behind and performed as a trio, signing with Sparrow Records and
delivering one album Miracle
in 1994 produced largely by
. Later that year, their
mother died of diabetes
complications. Forging on in the face of their great loss, Twinkie
Clark re-appeared in 1996 with a pair of albums to her credit: the
solo studio release The Masterpiece
for Ben Tankard's
Tribute Records label and the live project Twinkie
Clark-Terrell presents FAMU Gospel Choir
. The latter released
on CD, VHS, & DVD featured The Clark Sisters on a showstopping
remake of their own hit "Nothing To Lose."
Karen delivered her much-anticipated solo debut Finally Karen
in 1997. The album,
featuring star turns from The Clark Sisters, Faith Evans, and
daughter Kierra Sheard, was nominated for a Grammy in addition to
winning a Soul Train Lady of Soul award. She has since released
three more solo albums: 2nd
Heavens Are Telling
, and It's Not Over
Dorinda released her first solo album, Dorinda Clark-Cole
in 2002, earning her
two Stellar awards, and a Soul Train Lady of Soul award. Dorinda
has since released two more solo albums: Live in Houston
and the most current
release Take It Back
, each of
which have earned Dorinda the award for Female Vocalist of the Year
at the annual Gospel Event, The Stellar Awards. Jacky released her
first solo effort, Expectancy
respectively in 2005 which features The Clark Sisters on the
soul-stirring track "Blessing Me." The Clark Sisters have all
contributed in various capacities to each other's albums, whether
they sang or wrote lyrics.
The sisters' reunion
recently, The Clark Sisters did a live recording on July 8, 2006 in
Texas entitled Live... One Last
. The recording was directed and produced by Donald
Lawrence and was released as a CD
on April 10,
2007 on EMI Gospel, followed by a CD/DVD Special Edition release
June 19, 2007. In support of the reunion album, The Clark Sisters
embarked on a 25-city Concert Tour beginning October 4
. The tour began in
Nashville, Tennessee and visited cities such as New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Baltimore.
Following the group's resurgence in popularity, Rhino Entertainment
is releasing a
greatest-hits collection sampling recordings from no less than 3
albums recorded for Word Records from the mid 80's through the
early 90's, including the Grammy-nominated Heart &
. The album Encore: The Best of The Clark
was released February
Clark sister Dorinda mentioned during an acceptance speech at the
2008 Stellar Awards that due to the overwhelming response to
Live... One Last Time
, the group may soon record
Pastor J. Drew Sheard, (Karen's husband) hinted at the sisters'
Grammy Celebration on talks of a new album, that would be aptly
titled, The Clark Sisters..."Back By Popular Demand!"
Gospel Grammy awards sweep
Though The Clark Sisters have been thrice nominated previously for
Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group
, 1986's Heart & Soul
without a win, the group won three
Grammys in 2008. Live - One Last Time
won the Best
Traditional Gospel Album
. Its album track "Blessed & Highly
Favored" won the Best Gospel
. As songwriter of "Blessed & Highly Favored,"
Karen Clark Sheard won the individual Best Gospel Song
Additionally, at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony featuring a
gospel segment with Aretha Franklin
Mary J. Blige, Israel & New Breed, and Trin-i-tee 5:7, The Clark Sisters performed a
snippet of their signature "You Brought The Sunshine" when the
ceremony was broadcast on February 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
The Clark Sisters recorded a Christmas Cd
followed special appearances with Karen's daughter Kierra Sheard
and there cousins Bill Moss Jr. and James Moss known as J Moss and
produced by J Drew Sheard
"The Clark Sound"
The Clark Sisters are renowned for their unique vocal stylings,
dubbed as "The Clark Sound." They incorporate high and fast
, acrobatic trills
deep, soulful growls
, or "squalls". The
sisters are also well known for each distinctive sound that they
contribute. Jacky (alto/tenor) is known for her soft, deeper
vocals. Dorinda (alto), the "jazzy" sister, inputs scats
and riffs. Karen (soprano) is known for
her riffs, runs and very high vocal range, and has also been known
to implement an "echo" in her live performances. Twinkie
(alto/tenor/soprano) is credited with being the "heart of the Clark
Sisters." Early in the group's development, Twinkie was the chief
songwriter, music and vocal arranger, producer and also possessing
a wide vocal range from soprano to contralto.
There is no single lead vocalist in the group. Jacky leads songs
such as "Wonderful Counselor," "I've Got An Angel," and "So Much
Joy." Dorinda leads "Overdose of the Holy Ghost," "Time Out" and
"My Redeemer Liveth." Karen sings lead on "Hallelujah," "Endow Me,"
and the Grammy-winning "Blessed and Highly Favored." Twinkie leads
on "Pray for the USA," "I've Got The Victory", and their biggest
hit "You Brought The Sunshine." Denise Leads On Songs Something
Worth Liveing For,Count It All Joy And Christ Is Born Today."
The Clark Sisters are the largest selling female gospel group of
all time having sold millions of albums and have paved the way for
the contemporary genre of gospel music.
- 1973: Jesus Has a Lot to Give
- 1974: Dr. Mattie Moss Clark Presents the Clark
- 1976: Unworthy
- 1978: Count It All Joy
- 1978: New Dimensions of Christmas Carols
- 1979: He Gave Me Nothing to Lose (But All to
- 1980: Is My Living in Vain #1 (US Gospel)
- 1981: You Brought the Sunshine
- 1982: Sincerely
- 1986: Best
- 1986: Heart and Soul #4 (US Gospel)
- 1988: Conqueror #7 (US Gospel), #29 (US Contemporary
- 1989: Bringing It Back Home #13 (US Gospel)
- 1994: Miracle #8 (US Gospel)
- 2007: Live - One Last Time #1 (US Gospel), #56 (US
- 2008: Encore: The Best of the Clark Sisters
- 2008: The Clark Sisters Definitive Gospel
- 2009: A Clark Family Christmas
- 1978: "A Praying Spirit"
- 1980: "Is My Living in Vain"
- 1980: "Ha Ya(Eternal Life)"
- 1980: "Expect A Miracle"
- 1982: "Name It Clam It"
- 1982: "World"
- 1983: "You Brought the Sunshine" (#80 US R&B)
- 1986: "Time Out (Remix)" (#43 Dance/Club Play Songs)
- 1988: "More Then A Conqueror"
- 2007: "Blessed & Highly Favored" (#1 US Gospel)
- 2007: "Livin'" (#2 US Gospel), (#117 US R&B)
- 2007: "Something New"
- 2008: "Looking to Get There (Heaven)"
- "Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates" - Commissioned & The Clark
Sisters (from Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration)
- "Nothing to Lose" - Florida A&M University Gospel Choir
featuring The Clark Sisters (Crystal Rose, 1996)
- "Jesus Is a Love Song" - Karen Clark-Sheard featuring The Clark
Sisters (from Finally Karen) (Island, 1997)
- "Pure Gold" - Karen
Clark-Sheard featuring The Clark Sisters (from Finally
Karen... Live! - VHS Only) (Island/Polygram Video,
- "Show Me the Way" - Dorinda
Clark-Cole featuring The Clark Sisters (from Dorinda
Clark-Cole) (Gospocentric, 2002)
- "You Brought the Sunshine" - Kelly
Price feat. The Clark Sisters (Def Soul, 2003)
- "I'm Not Perfect" - Missy Elliott
feat. The Clark Sisters (from This Is Not a Test)
- "I Made It" - Twinkie Clark
featuring The Clark Sisters (from Home Once Again)
- "Blessing Me" - Jacky
Clark-Chisholm featuring The Clark Sisters (from
Expectancy) (Entheos, 2005)
Ground" - Robert Randolph &
The Clark Sisters (from Oh Happy Day: An
All-Star Music Celebration) (EMI
Gospel/Vector Recordings, 2009)
- "I Wanna Thank You"- The Clark Sisters, Kierra Sheard, and J
Moss(from "Silky Soul Music... an All-star Tribute to Maze
feat. Frankie Beverly) (Brantera
Music Group, 2009)
- The Clark Sisters Concert Tour GospelCity.com.
- NuthinButGospel.com New Releases 2008
- Encore: The Best of The Clark Sisters on Amazon.com