THE CLARK SISTERS-THE SOUND OF GOSPEL RECORDS’ YEARS 1976-1981.

The Clark Sisters-The Sound Of Gospel Records’ Years 1976-1981.

By the late-sixties, both jazz and blues were no longer as popular as they once had been.  That was when it dawned on some mucicians that unless the music they loved evolved,  is risked becoming irrelevant. Both jazz and blues evolved and over fifty years later, both genres are thriving  and the music is still influencing a new generation of musicians. 

A decade later, gospel music was in a similar situation and needed to change. It hadn’t changed and had been left behind. That was until 1976, when The Clark Sisters  from Detroit, became part of a new generation of gospel groups who were determined to reinvent the music they loved. 

Playing their part in the story was Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark, a naturally talented and gifted composer who wrote gospel music that not opt addressed  what were important spiritual matters but modernised the music. Despite doing so, they felt they were staying true their ministry while reaching a much wider audience than  many of their predecessors.  However, this didn’t go down well with everyone.

Especially when DJs started playing You Brought The Sunshine (Into My Life) in discos and the track crossed over.  Traditionalists within the gospel community were horrified at what was happening. 

By then, Jacky, Denise, Dorinda, Karen and Elbernita Clark who collectively  were known as The Clark Sisters, were already one of the biggest names in gospel music. They had signed to The Sound Of Gospel Records which  was their home between 1976 and 1981, and doing that five year period they released seven albums.  However, The Clark Sisters recording career began in the early seventies.

In 1973, The Clark Sisters released their debut album Jesus Has A Lot To Give. It was produced by Bill Moss and released on his own Detroit-based Biless label. Most of the album was traditional gospel music apart from the title-track where Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark had rewritten a Pepsi Cola jingle. This was just the start. 

A year later,  in 1974, Mattie Moss Clark Presents The Clark Sisters was released and was once again produced by  Bill Moss . It was released on the  Biless label and was another album of traditional gospel music. However, their music changed when they signed to the Sound Of Gospel Records, a subsidiary of Westbound Records.

Two years later, The Clark Sisters retuned in 1976, with their third album and debut for the Sound Of Gospel Records. This was Unworthy which showcased the talents of Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark as she began to incorporate elements of blues, jazz ad R&B on an album whose highlights include Keep On Looking Up, I’m Going To Have Just What I Want and My Mind Is Made Up which features Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark on lead vocal. These tracks show thatThe Clark Sisters were playing an important part in   the modernisation of gospel music.

By 1978, it was the height of the disco era, and Count It All Joy became The Clark Sisters fourth album. It saw Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark given a co-producer’s credit on an album which features elements of jazz and R&B. Patience almost heads in the direction of disco, while No Other Name is jazz-tinged thanks to the Hammond organ and the swaying gospel of I Found What I’m Looking For benefits from the addition of a jazz guitar. These three tracks were among the highlights of the album of their second album for The Sound Of Gospel.

A year later in 1979, The Clark Sisters released the album Praise Belongs To God. It featured Jesus I’ll Never Forget and the uplifting and catchy God You Got The Glory which were both penned by Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark. However, this wasn’t the only album The Clark Sisters released during 1979.

They also released  He Gave Me Nothing To Lose in 1979, which was the biggest crossover album of their career. Three of the highlights were Everything’s Gonna Be Alright where disco meets gospel  in a Chic-tinged track, while My Cup Runneth Over showcases The Clark Sisters’ at the peak of their powers and Nothing To Lose, All To Gain was perfect for quiet storm stations and showed another side to the group.

So does He Keeps Me Money, the joyous Overdose Of The Holy Ghost and You Brought The Sunshine which another of The Clark Sisters’ tracks to crossover and become a dancefloor filler. You Brought The Sunshine was the title-track to their 1981 album and  was played in many clubs, including Studio 54. However, gospel traditionalists weren’t happy and as The Clark Sisters played their part in reinventing the genre.

The last album The Clark Sisters released during the five year period signed to The Sound Of Gospel was Ye Shall Receive Power which was released in 1981. Sadly, the album failed commercially and it’s now an oft-overlooked hidden gem. Two of the albums highlights are Awake O Zion and Power.

The albums that The Clark Sisters recorded and released. They played their part in reinventing gospel music and ensuring the music stayed relevant. 

Playing an important part in the reinvention of gospel music was Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark, who was a truly talented and gifted composer. She drew inspiration from disparate genres including blues, disco, funk, jazz and R&B which were incorporated into the albums The Clark Sisters released by 1976 and 1981n and saw them reinventing gospel music and ensuring it stayed relevant 

The Clark Sisters-The Sound Of Gospel Records’ Years 1976-1981.

1 Comment

  1. Love The Clark Sisters. Danced to them on the dance floor lol.

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