After The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel shattered Lifetime’s ratings by becoming the highest-rated original film on the network in four years, fans are eager for more of the iconic legendary gospel group. The group was the first gospel act to cross musical charts and merge genres thanks to their vocal skill and innovative songs.
They’ve gone on to become the highest-selling female gospel group in history and inspired artists from all genres of music. The sisters branched out into their own successful solo careers before reuniting in 2006. The film ended with a brief update on each individual member, with fans questioning whether or not they ever reconciled with one of their estranged sisters.
Jacky Clark Chisholm
Jacky is the eldest of the sisters and was the last to release a solo project with her 2005 debut album Expectancy. The album was recorded live at the Cathedral Center in Detroit, with background vocals performed by a special assembly of vocalists. Two of her children were background vocalists and the album featured a song with her sister Twinkie.
She inked a new record deal in 2019 UAMC with promises of new solo music.
In addition to music, Jacky worked as a nurse when she was not touring with her sisters. She is still a practicing nurse and balances her medical work with her life as a singer.
Known as “The Mother of Contemporary Gospel Music,” Twinkie wrote and arranged the majority of the music for the group. Taught by her mother, she also traveled around the world alongside her mom to do the same for other church choirs.
The film shows the fallout from her decision to sell her publishing for a car, something she later regretted but learned from it and later got her business affairs in order when she went on to write additional music.
Since leaving the group, Twinkie took her talents and applied them to other artists, writing and arranging over 200 songs throughout her career. She’s a member of the Hammond Organ Hall of Fame.
Dorinda’s had one of the most successful solo careers out of the sisters. Her self-titled debut was released in June 2002 and won her two Stellar Awards and a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for the Best Female Gospel Artist. She’s released four additional albums.
After contemplating suicide, overcoming an addiction and witnessing her sister Twinke’s nervous breakdown, Dorinda became a mental health advocate and uses her music to push the message. She also taught at the Clark Conservatory of Music in Detroit and is an administrator of ministry at the Greater Emmanuel Institutional COGIC.
She travels as an evangelist and made history in South Africa when she became the first woman to minister in the pulpit to over 4,000 people. She spreads the word of God through her various radio and television programs. Dorinda has also appeared in several films and stage productions.
Karen Clark Sheard
The youngest of the Clark sisters, Karen’s had the most solo success. She rose to fame after her much anticipated solo album, Finally Karen in 1998 – which earned her a Grammy nomination and earning her a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best Female Vocalist. Karen has merged R&B and gospel music, collaborating with many artists outside of the gospel genre including Faith Evans.
Finally Karen peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and U.S. Billboard Gospel Albums charts. She released four additional solo albums, writing many of her songs.
After given only a 2% chance of survival after falling into a coma following an elective plastic surgery operation, Karen’s faith was increased and she began advocating for self-love and body positivity. She talked her daughter out of getting an elective surgery that was shown on their BET reality series, The Sheards, in 2013.
Denise Clark Bradford
The film showed the growing resentment between Denise and her mother – as well as her sisters – which culminated in her eventually leaving the group after feeling continuously judged for having children out of wedlock. She left The Clark Sisters in 1986 with rumors that she was kicked out. She later clarified that she left after becoming pregnant a fourth time and claims she was instructed to terminate the pregnancy.
She shared her story with talk show Larry Reid Live in February 2019.
“Nobody kicked me out. I was tired of things I was experiencing behind having my children,” she said. “And that coming about, I wasn’t going to get rid of my children. I was being counseled to get rid of my children. I’m here to clear up the hearsay.”
Denise did not have contact with her sisters until their mother died in 1994. The reunion was not pleasant, as depicted in the film with the other sisters feeling that Denise was disrespectful at the funeral.
Sadly, Denise remains estranged from her sisters today. She told Reid that she tried visiting her sister Twinkie when she fell ill but was not allowed to see her. Denise maintains that she loves her family and continues to ask for prayers that they can one day put their issues to rest.
She is now a married mother of seven who lives in California as she pursues her doctorate degree. She also continues to sing and minister at her local church.