CLARK FAMILY CHRISTMAS (Karew, 2009)
A family that prays together stays together. What a joy to see the Clark Sisters and their respected, talented family members united for their second holiday project,Family Christmas. This time, J Moss and Kierra Sheard join the cast along with Bill Moss Jr. on an eleven-track project fused with both live and studio offerings. Most of the features contain Asaph Ward’s jazzy contemporary gospel style embedded in familiar holiday treasures. Twinkie Clark delivers her share of arrangements on the angelic “Oh Come Emmanuel” and a gospel choir-styled version of “Silent Night,” but the absence of her legendary organ skills are too hard to ignore. Probably the album’s strongest effort is the humorous, impromptu performance of “The Chipmunk Song.” The girls are just a joy to hear interacting with one another, especially on the closing seconds.
LIVE – ONE LAST TIME (EMI Gospel, 2007)
It has been nearly two decades since Jacky, Dorinda, Karen & Twinkie have released a full cd as a group and this is one of the most anticipated releases of 2007. Effectively produced by Donald Lawrence, who described this project as a dream come true, this landmark recording effortlessly mixes the old with the new. The captivating opening number “Livin” is a bouncy number celebrating a blessed life. Karen shows her maturation as a songwriter on the soulful “Blessed & Highly Favored” while Twinkie puts her stamp on “Something New” and “You Heard My Cry”. In true Dorinda form, she wrote and sang the very funky “Looking To Get There”. Donald Lawrence contributed the opening number and the beautiful “Instrument of Praise”. A trip down memory lane is always a treat for the true Clark fan. “You Brought The Sunshine”, “Holy Will”, “Name It Claim It”, “Got An Angel”, “My Redeemer Liveth” and “Pray For The USA” are just a few of the songs that we know and love. This project has been a long time coming but it is truly worth the wait.
MIRACLE (Sparrow, 1994)
This is by far the sisters most commercial release to date and the only full recording without the songwriting or vocals of Twinkie Clark. Produced by BeBe Winans & Michael J. Powell, this disc features a very pop version of the Clark Sisters classic “Expect A Miracle” (now titled Miracle), a remake of the classic “Jesus Is The Best Thing” and a breath taking rendition of “Amazing Grace” with Karen taking it home as only she can. Also, one of Karen’s most subdued recordings is on this disc, the beautiful “Simply Yes”. Upbeat numbers such as “He’s A Real Friend”, “No Doubt About It” and “It’s Gonna Be Alright” round off this project. Also, Dorinda made her songwriting debut on a Clark Sisters recording with “Work To Do”.
BRINGING IT BACK HOME (Rejoice, a division of Word Records, 1989)
The last recording from The Clark Sisters on Word Records’ Rejoice imprint and the last group album with Twinkie just before the launch of her solo career, this album brought the sisters back to their hometown of Detroit, Michigan and back to the live stage setting where all the magic happens. This recording features a complete package of surprises for the die-hard Clark fan with a medley including some of their greatest hits like “Is My Living In Vain?”, “You Brought The Sunshine,” and “Hallelujah.” The Clark Sisters also bring new material with Twinkie’s signature lead vocals as she jams on “So Much He’s Done For Me,” Jacky’s soothing presentation on the praise number “Wonderful Counselor”, Dorinda’s blazing energy and improvisations on the hit single “My Redeemer Liveth”, and Karen’s commanding performance on “Prayers of the Righteous.” The album even features guest appearances from gospel icon Rance Allen and backing choir vocals from The Michigan State Choir directed by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Fans and Clark enthusiasts can also experience the Shekinah glory with the accompanying live VHS version of this album. It’s sure to continue to be a household favorite.
CONQUEROR (Rejoice, a division of Word Records, 1988)
One of the most critically acclaimed albums ever released from the Clark Sisters, Conqueror spills out from your speakers with futuristic vocal arrangements and spectacular studio production featuring a bolder, more intense sound from the Clark Sisters collectively and individually. Twinkie’s musical genius is exhibited as she borrows from more progressive sounds of the late ‘80s to enhance the overall foundation of the project. Her engaging songwriting skills and inimitable vocal chops remain strong and forceful, but even turn sweet and charming on the adorable R/B-influenced “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” Karen’s anointed powerhouse vocals on “Take Me Higher” ascend way beyond imagination while Dorinda preaches her way through the drum machine-heavy synthesized “I Won’t Let Go Till You Bless My Soul.” Catch Jacky as she grabs the mic and confidently bounces into a deep ‘80s pop groove on “So Much Joy Inside Me.” Conqueror quickly became a fan favorite with hits like the encouraging “The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Day” and the original studio version of “Jesus Forevermore” while gaining the Clark Sisters yet another hit album.
HEART AND SOUL (Rejoice, a division of Word Records, 1986)
Released after a four year recording break “Heart and Soul” is the first of three albums on Word Records and quite possibly their best produced project and most cohesive. This project made an impressive top 5 debut on Billboard’s Gospel Charts and garnered the group a coveted Dove Award. Featuring the original versions of “Jesus Is A Love Song”, “Balm in Gilead” and the prophetic “Pray for the USA”, which has been re-recorded several times. The harmonies and musicianship present us the maturing and seamless sound of The Clark Sisters that we have grown to love. The music takes on a more contemporary sound with programmed drums and synthesizers, but the vocals remain true to form. Also included on this hard to find classic is “Smile, God Loves You,” “Time Out” “I Am Blessed” and the funky “He’ll Turn Your Scars Into Stars.”
BEST (Spirit and Truth, 1986)
This unauthorized recording features remastered and remixed versions of songs from The Clark Sisters first two albums. Now a collector’s item, The Clark Sisters Best showcases the best of their very early humble beginnings. With most of the songs coming from their debut “Jesus Has A Lot To Give”, the label managed to squeeze in the original version of “Hallelujah” from their second lp, a song that will go down in history as one of the best shouting numbers.
SINCERELY (New Birth, 1982)
This is a collection of some of the best music recorded by the sisters. The only problem is that its success was overshadowed by the prepotency of the previously released block buster hit “You Brought The Sunshine”, but that did not stop this from receiving a Grammy nomination. The opening number “Name It, Claim It” featured super tight harmonies, a jazz scat from baby sister Karen and a guest appearance from R & B power house DJ Rodgers. Upbeat numbers such as “I’m Encouraged”, “Keep Moving” (the last recorded track to feature all five sisters on lead vocals) and I’m In Good Hands” solidified The Clark Sisters as THE premiere vocal group in gospel. Not only was this the last Clark Sisters recording to feature sister Denise, but also the last to feature a guest appearance from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark.
YOU BROUGHT THE SUNSHINE (Sound Of Gospel, 1981)
The classic ‘80s release from The Clark Sisters features the title track that secured their bonafide hit on the Gospel charts while establishing their controversial crossover appeal into secular music genres. This album continues to display Twinkie’s signature blend of scripture with unprecedented vocal and musical arrangements on biblically based songs like “Psalms 31.” Nostalgic Clark fans find their favorites like the sincere prayer found within the lyrics of both “Center of Thy Will” and “Endow Me,” featuring a young but still vocally mature Karen, and also the simply sassy “Overdose of the Holy Ghost” where Dorinda’s alarming similarity to her mother’s vocal dexterity is evident. The discotheque-inspired “He Keeps Me Company,” complete with its bubbly syncopation, is sure to encourage listeners everywhere during even the loneliest of moments as we continue to fight the good fight of faith.
IS MY LIVING IN VAIN (Sound Of Gospel, 1980)
The first live recording by The Clark Sisters spent an entire year at number one on Billboard’s Gospel Music chart. Opening with the bluesy title track, each sister vocally declares that their dedication to Christ is not a useless effort. The innovative “Haya” was funky enough to find its way into a Tonex produced track over two decades later. Songs such as “Pure Gold” and “They Were Overcome” were derived straight from the word of God. Deep faith is roused by Karen Clark’s positively possessed lead on “Speak Lord” while the call to worship is raised on the emphatically delivered “Now Is The Time”. Another hit from this release “Expect Your Miracle” is still a staple on Sunday mornings in black churches across the country.
HE GAVE ME NOTHING TO LOSE : But All To Gain (Sound Of Gospel, 1979)
“My Life Is So Complete With Jesus” combines The Clark Sisters thick harmony with elements of swing, jazz and gospel to create a surprising vocal concoction only obtainable by the maestro herself, Twinkie Clark. This album once again features lead vocals from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark on a few selections, but it doesn’t stop there. Another Clark classic was birthed on this album (hence the title track “He Gave Me Nothing to Lose”) and further cemented the Clark Sisters’ definitive sound in gospel music history. Each of the Sisters’ vocal contributions uniquely adds to the groove on the soul/funk guitar-based “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and the Sunday school skip of “Determination.”
NEW DIMENSION OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS (Nine/Sound Of Gospel, 1978)
The Clark Sisters add their own distinct flavor to classic Christmas carols. Renditions of “Go Tell It On The Mountain”, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” and “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” are just a few of the nuggets on this recording. The arrangements of “Silent Night” and “O Come Emmanuel” are done in perfect Clark harmony. Dorinda works the very churchy “Seeking For Me” as only she can.
COUNT IT ALL JOY (Sound Of Gospel, 1978)
Sounding as if it was recorded right from the pulpit of a Holy Ghost-filled, fire-baptized sanctuary, “A Praying Spirit”, now one of the most famous hits from the Clark Sisters, starts this album off in the right direction featuring Karen’s signature lead soprano vocals. The album continues to build momentum with its title track’s lyrics persuading Christians to count everything we endure with joy. Later, two guest appearances from Dr. Mattie Moss Clark with her daughters remind you to “Prepare Yourself” because it’s “Time to Seek the Lord.” Twinkie also shines as she leads the rejoicing with her sisters on “I Found What I’m Looking For.” The Clark Sisters’ tight yet soaring vocal arrangements also stand out on tracks such as the stuttering declaration of “No Other Name” and the rapid intensity of the infectious “Patience.”
UNWORTHY (Sound Of Gospel, 1976)
Opening with a piano solo from Twinkie and the legendary Dr. Mattie Moss Clark’s raspy vocal tone, “Jesus Loves You” starts off this album with encouraging lyrics and showcases that classic Clark harmony. Currently a standard in many of today’s churches worldwide, “I Can Do All Things Through Christ” shows all five of the Clark Sisters in the beginning stages of their rise to gospel notoriety. There’s a raw element to all of these selections recorded in the late ‘70s. The album is a true blast from the past with the soul-stirring “I’m Going to Have Just What I Want,” which displays Dorinda’s churchy call-and-response style and continues with her touching exhortation on the title track. “My Mind Is Made Up” and “Keep On Looking Up” display Twinkie’s innovative musical interpretations of jazz, soul and swing as she effortlessly moves from one genre to another without ever losing the essence of The Clark Sisters’ unique brand of gospel. She takes her sisters a step further and even leaves a lasting impression with her progressive rendition of “The Start Spangled Banner.”
DR. MATTIE MOSS CLARK PRESENTS THE CLARK SISTERS (Billesse, 1974)
The Clark Sisters return a little older and a little bolder on their sophomore set. The opening number “Renew My Spirit” features Mattie Moss Clark on lead vocals. As the record plays, each sister showcases their very mature vocal abilities. Still in their teens, Dorinda works the driving “Sanctify Me Lord” and even preaches with Twinkie’s encouragement on the breakdown of “Holiness”; Denise displays her piercing soprano voice on the persuasive “Something Worth Living For” while the powerhouse Twinkie Clark fervently sings “What A Wonderful World” (If Everybody Was like Jesus). One of the most memorable songs of this recording is the futuristic sounding “Hallelujah” that turns into a foot stomping hand clapping good time as young Karen encourages the listener to “clap their hands and praise the Lord”.
JESUS HAS A LOT TO GIVE (Billesse, 1973)
The Clark Sisters 1973 debut produced by and recorded on their uncle Bill Moss’ record label found the girls barely in their teens singing with the fervor and conviction of women twice their age. This project signified many great things to come. One of the most significant occurances was the developing songwriting skills of a teenaged Twinkie Clark finally making its way to record. The title track and a few other gems such as “If You Don’t Know Jesus By Now”, were inspired by commercial jingles and secular songs. Other tracks include “No Friend Like Jesus”, “If You Can’t Take It” and “Don’t Let The Devil Get You Down”. Who would have thought that three decades later they would still be going strong? I’ll tell you who, everyone that listened to this impressive debut.