THE CLARK SISTERS
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The Clark Sisters are an American gospel vocal group consisting of four sisters:
Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark, Jacky Clark Chisholm, Dorinda Clark Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard.
A fifth member, 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 group have won two Grammy Awards.
Despite similarity in names, there is no connection with the 1940s/1950's jazz quartet "The Clark Sisters" (also known as The Sentimentalists when they recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra).
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 Sisters was released, and people around Detroit began to take notice of the group. The group 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 Miracle."
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. "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 1982, Sincerely, 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 Records, a division of Word.
This 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 (1991).
Following their last Word Records release, Twinkie resumed her calling as a minister and recorded the independent solo album Comin' Home 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 BeBe Winans.
Later that year, their mother died of diabetes-related 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 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 Chance, The Heavens Are Telling, and It's Not Over.
Dorinda and Jacky released their first solo efforts, Dorinda Clark Cole and Expectancy, respectively in 2002 and 2005.
Dorinda has also released two solo albums: "Live in Houston" and the most current release "Take It Back". The Clark Sisters have all contributed in various capacities to each other's albums, whether they sang or wrote lyrics.
More recently, The group did a live recording on July 8, 2006 in Houston, Texas entitled Live... One Last Time. 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, 2007. The tour will 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 & Soul. The album Encore: The Best of The Clark Sisters was released February 12, 2008.
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 again.
Though The Clark Sisters have been thrice nominated previously for the Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy with 1983's Sincerely, 1986's Heart & Soul, and 1988's Conqueror without a win, the group won two Grammys in 2008.
Live - One Last Time won the Best Traditional Gospel Album. Its album track "Blessed & Highly Favored" won the Best Gospel Performance. 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 10th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
The Clark Sisters are renowned for their unique vocal stylings, dubbed as "The Clark Sound." They incorporate high and fast melismas, acrobatic trills and riffs, and 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," and their biggest hit "You Brought The Sunshine."
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