The Clark Sisters loom large over the modern gospel landscape, which rests mainly on the legacy of their soul and jazz-influenced recordings for Detroit’s Sound Of Gospel label. Sample the highlights here.
In the late 1970s and into the early 80s the Clark Sisters changed the face of gospel music. With the natural musical talent of Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark guiding the way with her compositions, they created music which addressed the important spiritual concerns but melded it with a modern edge. The group claimed this was keeping true to their ministry in bringing the word to a wider audience, but traditionalists disagreed. When ‘You Brought The Sunshine (Into My Life)’ crossed over to the discotheques there was uproar in the gospel community.
The group comprised Jacky, Denise, Dorinda, Karen and Elbernita Clark. Their mother, Mattie Moss Clark, was one of the foremost choir leaders in the Michigan area, with a long recording career. She raised her daughters to be a group, keeping them clear of secular concerns, and by the early 1970s they had released their first records for their uncle Bill Moss’ Bilesse outlet. Bill and Mattie had both recorded for Detroit’s Westbound label, which at the time was enjoying success in the pop charts with the Detroit Emeralds, Denise LaSalle and others. It was through this connection that the group signed to Westbound’s new Sound Of Gospel subsidiary.
The combination of the new label’s experience and the flowering of Twinkie’s talent meant there was a great leap forward in the sound of their records, with the influence of Motown, Aretha Franklin and jazz informing the way the songs were put together. By the time of 1979’s “He Gave Me Nothing To Lose” the join was seamless, and in 1981 the nod to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Master Blaster (Jammin’)’ gave ‘You Brought The Sunshine’ such a contemporary feel that it became a club hit, and the group were invited to perform at the Grammys. It would be their final bow at Sound Of Gospel.
Here we bring together the most accessible tracks from their “Unworthy”, “Count It All Joy”, “He Gave Me Nothing To Lose” and “You Brought The Sunshine” albums, plus four titles from Twinkie’s solo albums, “Praise Belongs To God” and “Ye Shall Receive Power”, which are now both highly sought-after collectors’ pieces. This is the first compilation to provide an overview of their work during this period.