The Clark Sisters A Focus on Glory
As I lay back, with pen and paper in hand thinking of how to properly begin this tribute article, I begin to absorb the words, emanating from my stereo, that Jacky Clark-Chisolm is so beautifully singing: "I've Got An Angel Looking After Me....."
After a short period, I begin thinking of a place where there will be no more crying and no more sickness, where pain and dispair will cease to be, a place where the righteous will eternally reign and where weary souls will find rest.
Suddenly, I realize that I'm not daydreaming but I'm in the presence of God.
How did that happen? Was it Jacky's soft and gentle singing? Or was it Twinkie's lyrics so concise and comforting that is as if God whispered those lyrics directly into her ear. Or could it have been Dorinda and Karen's harmonies blending together as one to form the perfect union of melody and ministry?
As the song fades and I wipe the tear from my cheek, I realize that it is all of these things combined. See, God used all of these individual components, formed by his anointing, uttered with conviction and harmonized in unison to pierce my wounded soul so much so that I cried uncontrollably the first time I heard this song.
What is it about these four women that God chooses to use them in that capacity? How did it start?
Born and reared in Detroit, Michigan, The Clark Sisters were almost predestined the be great women in the ministry. Jacky, Denise, Twinkie, Dorinda and Karen are the five daughters of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark.
Dr. Clark raised her daughters in the fear and reverence of God and gave them a focus on glory at an early age, teaching them them not only how to sing, but instructing them on the importance of singing with an anointing.
By the late 60's all five sisters were singing together in church services, not knowing the path that God had laid out before them.
After Dr. Clark felt that Twinkie was capable and ready, she turned over full control of The Clark Sisters to her, and in 1973, The Clark Sisters recorded their first album, Jesus Has A Lot To Give, on their uncle's (Bill Moss) local label.
The following year, Mattie Moss Clark Presents The Clark Sisters was released and both recordings created a considerable buzz in the Detroit area.
Among the classics contained on those two recordings are "Something Worth Living For", "If You Can't Take It" and the COGIC classic "Hallelujah."
In 1976, the sisters signed to Sound Of Gospel Records were they would see their recording career take off. In the late 70's, the Clark Sisters released four albums; Unworthy (1976), Count It All Joy (1978), New Dimensions Of Christmas Carols (1978) and He Gave Me Nothing To Lose (1979). They made a name for themselves on soon to become Gospel staples such as "A Praying Spirit", "I Can Do All Things Through Christ", "Nothing To Lose" and "O Come Ye Emmanuel."
The early 1980’s saw the Clark Sisters becoming a nation-wide phenomenon as Twinkie guided the sisters in a live recording which was titled Is My Living In Vain.
Upon its release, "Vain" would remain atop of the Billboard Gospel Charts for over a year and yield hits in the form of the title track, "Pure Gold" and "Expect Your Miracle."
The Clark Sisters following release would prove to be an even bigger commercial success. "You Brought The Sunshine" would go on to garner The Clark Sisters a Gold album and a bonafide hit on secular music charts.
God would get the ultimate glory for this amazing feat, however The Clark Sisters were criticized by the church for being too "worldly." And while the detractors talked, The Clark Sisters kept their focus on glory. Throughout the remainder of the 80's , The Clark Sisters would release four more albums; Sincerely (1982), Heart And Soul (1986), Conqueror (1988) and Bringing It Back Home (1989).
While commercial success followed The Clark Sisters with all of their releases, they were quick to remember the warnings of Dr. Clark. She would always tell them "never compromise to be recognized,” and the message of Jesus Christ never wavered in their music no matter how contemporary the sounds were in their songs.
As the 80's turned into 90's, change was on the horizon for The Clark Sisters.
Twinkie, who was the principle songwriter and vocal arranger for the group, left the Clark Sisters to pursue her calling in the ministry. Jacky, Dorinda and Karen went on to tour as a trio and recorded an album [(Miracle (1994)].
The contributions of the Clark Sisters in the Gospel music industry are great and many. Many artists, secular and Gospel, cite them as their influences, but their contributions go far beyond any riff or run that they could ever do. They are women who are not only EXCELLENT singers but women with hearts for God; women who desire the things of God.
With Dorinda, Karen and Twinkie each releasing solo projects in the summer of 2002, many people are wondering if The Clark Sisters will ever get back together.
Perhaps Karen said it best: "There will always be a Clark Sisters."
What we, as fans, have to realize is that the focus of The Clark Sisters is not on what they did yesterday, or in re-living the glorious past.
Their focus is on one thing and one thing only. Glory!
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