For over 40 years, The Clark Sisters have been your favorite singer’s favorite singers.
Cited as an influence by many of music history’s top divas including Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige, the group – comprised of sisters Twinkie, Jacky, Dorinda, and Karen – stand as the best-selling ensemble in Gospel history and have cranked out some of the genre’s most memorable hits like ‘Name It, Claim It,’ ‘Is My Living In Vain,’ and their game-changing, crossover hit, ‘You Brought the Sunshine.’
With the release of their March 13 album, ‘The Return,’ the quartet are penciling in new chapters to their legendary story. Quieting diehard fans who had long pressed them for the follow-up to their last studio effort, 2007’s ‘Live – One Last Time,’ the new LP was kicked off by the anthemic single ‘Victory’ – which shot straight to the top of multiple charts.
That Grape Juice was privileged to sit down with the music royals (sans Twinkie) to discuss the project and dish on their highly anticipated Lifetime biopic, ‘The First Ladies of Gospel,’ which premieres April 11. Read this and more inside:
TGJ: The Clark Sisters have been immensely private regarding their personal lives over the years. Why was now the time to invite fans in?
Jacky: Actually, the idea to tell our story on screen was brought to us by Holly Carter (the film’s executive producer). Our hope is that we can empower people and be an inspiration.
TGJ: Beyond family and music, “empowerment” is one of the movie’s recurring themes. We see it most in your mom, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, and the challenges she faced in the music business as well as home.
Karen: Our mom was such a powerful woman. Remember, back in the day women didn’t have leadership roles in businesses and churches, but she did. That’s the example she set before us.
She was never aggressive or harsh, but she was still graceful, impactful, and exemplified living what she sang about.
TGJ: What was your initial reaction to the finished product?
Dorinda: We’ve already shared our stories before on TV One’s ‘Unsung,’ but to see it portrayed on film in this manner was very emotional; we cried when we saw certain scenes. The actresses did their parts with such excellence. I don’t think they could’ve cast anyone better.
There’s a video of us first meeting Aunjanue Ellis [who portrays Dr. Mattie Moss Clark in the film] and we gasped when we saw her because she looks so much like our mother when she was young. Aunjanue nailed that part.
TGJ: We’ve seen the film and must say: if Aunjanue doesn’t get an Emmy nod for her performance, it would be an injustice.
Dorinda: Right! That’s what I’m saying.
TGJ: Shifting gears a bit, the film was preceded by your new album, ‘The Return’ – your first studio effort as a group in nearly 13 years. Having sung together for over 5 decades, was there anything different about your creative process for the new LP?
Jacky: The biggest difference was our nephew [Karen’s son J. Drew Sheard II] producing it, which itself shows you how the legacy of our family continues. There’s so much talent. He wanted us to be happy with what he did.
TGJ: Why did you feel ‘Victory’ was the best single to reintroduce yourselves as a group?
Dorinda: It’s the perfect song for right now. Everybody is dealing with this [coronavirus] pandemic, but we’ve got to declare victory. The song gives you hope and peace while you’re going through. It speaks to the now, but also to the future.
TGJ: Have you considered what the next single will be?
Jacky: We haven’t discussed it yet, but my preference at this point would be ‘Good Favor’ (produced by Kurt Carr).
TGJ: Let’s wrap things up on a fun note with a game we’ll call ‘Which Clark Sister?’
- TGJ #1) Which Clark Sister is the bossiest?
Jacky: Dorinda, then Karen!
Karen: I’d say Jacky (laughs)!
- TGJ #2) Which Clark Sister is always late?
Karen: Dorinda, for sure!
Jacky: Dorinda is the minister of lateness!
Dorinda: That is true, but I’m working on it in 2020 (laughs).
- TGJ #3) Which Clark Sister is a shop-a-holic?
Jacky and Dorinda: Karen!
- TGJ #4) Which Clark Sister acts the most like your mom, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark?
Jacky: Probably, me.
The Clark Sisters’ latest album, ‘The Return,’ is available on all platforms now!