Karen Clark Sheard (2013)
The audience was interspersed with Gospel music personalities including Sunday Best winner Tasha Page Lockhart, LeJeune Thompson (who won hands down for best tweets of the event, next to GOSPELflava.com, of course), Jonathan Nelson, Jessica Reedy, Rick Joyner, Damien Sneed, Vincent Tharpe, Joshua Rogers, Ricky Dillard, Ted Winn, Neily Dickerson, David Daughtry, Gina Waters Miller, Smokie Norful and so many others.
The audience finally settled into Chicago's House of Hope and super producer Donald Lawrence called the night to order. In Lawrence's opening remarks, he reminded the crowd of the last time he recorded live with Clark Sheard back in 1997, with the result being the much celebrated Finally Karen album. Lawrence explained how he vividly remembered Karen's son inquiring of him who was going to play the drums. Fast forward to 2013, and you'll find that on this night J. Drew Sheard , a producer coming into his own, would play the entire set. The other significant preface for the evening was that this would be Clark Sheard's first live recording outside of her home base of Detroit.
But, no need to fear, more than half of Detroit and probably all of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ (where she and her husband Bishop Sheard labor together in ministry) took up residency in Chicago for the night.
Finally, the hour came and Karen Clark Sheard took the stage and the music began.
The opening number was a fitting tribute to her evangelistic message, coming from Romans 8:31: "If God Be For Us, The Who Doesn't Matter". Newcomer Rudy Currence contributed "On Sunday Morning". Lawrence noted that the song had a Clark Sisters feel (and he was definitely on point) which allowed Clark Sheard the chance to get into her stride.
Throughout the entire evening, the music reflected messages of encouragement, hope, faith and inspiration. Clark Sheard put her own inimitable styling on a cover of Richard Smallwood's "The Resurrection".
Currence and Lawrence collaborated on another great number with one of the best tag lines of the night: "if you rest in Me, you'll see the best in Me, I've got you covered, relax, don't stress, be blessed."
This was the perfect stage set up for a COGIC mic toss with the Clark Sisters learning the song and treating us to a historical moment with the Sisters. Dorinda Clark-Cole swirled and Karen looped, but the moment was set ablaze when Twinkie Clark inserted an often imitated, but never duplicated, "original Twinkie squall", which sent the audience into pandemonium.
"Where Jesus Is" lived forever as Kierra Sheard added her flair and finesse, with mother Karen looking on in awe and the doting dad Bishop Sheard listening attentively.
Chicago's own Rick Robinson contributed another song highlight of the night, "My Words Have Power, Speak It!" Clark Sheard felt so comfortable with this one, she "felt her help come" and went to church with the audience and the audience, delighted by the invitation, sent up a praise through the house.
Our only hope is that everything we heard that night makes it to the finished product. As usual, we look forward with great anticipation to Karen Clark Sheard and Donald Lawrence's greatest collaboration yet.
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