The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel Biopic did not disappoint. Twitter and Facebook were on fire Saturday night commenting on the project as it aired. The casting was phenomenal and spot on. The portrayal of the Clark Sisters by Christina Bell as “Twinkie,” Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda, Raven Goodwin as Denise, Angela Birchett as Jacky, and Kierra Sheard as her real-life mom, Karen Clark Sheard left many viewers speechless.
Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, and Dr. Holly Davis Carter did an award worthy job as the Executive Producers of The Clark Sisters Story. They did such a good job that many are demanding a spin off to go deeper into the lives of the sisters. Director Christine Swanson deserves a standing ovation because of her insisting that “singers who could “bring the house down” in order to really capture “the essence of the Clark Sisters.” be cast. And oh boy did casting deliver. In fact , Queen Latifah shared that “during the casting process, if someone couldn’t handle the Clark Sisters songs in the audition, then that was a deal breaker.” Lets give Anjanue Ellis who portrayed Gospel giant Mattie Moss Clark her flowers right now! She carried that roll with some spectacular award worthy acting. Her acting drew you in and much like Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was the glue in real life she was the same for the characters.
During the casting process, if someone couldn’t handle the Clark Sisters songs in the audition, then that was a deal breakerQueen Latifah
It was great to witness the care and respect shown to the Gospel Legends. The scripting was on point. I don’t think Ordained Minister Camille Tucker and Sylvia Jones could have written a better one. This film underscores the importance of black women telling their own stories. There were so many poignant moments in the movie that are often not touched upon. The decision for Dr. Clark to leave her abusive husband in order to pursue her calling and raise her girls was a major one. Especially in those times. Religious women back then, often stayed out of fear of what their “church” family would say.
Another moment was the hypocrisy of the often male dominated church boards and their role in oppression by misapplying scripture. Dr. Clark should be celebrated as a hero, because she is indeed one. Women being subjected to traditional roles and prohibited from operating in their gift, not pursing the dreams or calling in life is a sad indictment on the body of Christ. Thankfully the movie tastefully highlighted this. The film also touch on the struggle with individualism when your complete existence has been comprised of being part of a group.
Another important theme highlighted in the film is that of healthcare and religion; during the scene with Jackie at home with Dr. Clark insisting that she takes her medication. It is a known fact in the faith community how some will forgo medication and sound medial advice in lieu of “walking by faith”. Diabetes and heart disease are largely preventable with diet and exercise, but remain prevalent in the African-American community.
Costume Designer Julia Patkos deserves praise as well. She gave us the glitter, sparkle, glam and shine that the Clark Sisters are known for. The film spanned four decades and not one beat was missed.
Another Gospel giant, Donald Lawrence was involved with the movie as well. He did all of the music and worked closely with the cast to make sure they nailed every note. Hopefully, we will be able to get a Donald Lawrence biopic because that too would be epic. His work ethic is impeccable. They could not have picked a better person.
Collectively the Clark Sisters have received three Grammy awards. “They have three Number One gospel singles, “Is My Loving in Vain”, “Time Out” and “Blessed & Highly Favored” . The Clark sisters still perform to this day and are credited with bringing gospel to the mainstream with their hit “You Brought the Sunshine”.
Dr. Mattie Moss Clark created the three part harmony. A technique by which the vocal parts are separated into soprano, alto and tenor. She went on to teach the technique to her daughters. Also, the practice is still in use by choirs. She was reportedly the first to submit choir recordings for publishing; Three of her albums with the Southwest Michigan State Choir have gone on to achieve gold status. “She has written and arranged several hundred songs and has recored over 50 albums”. Dr. Clark established the Clark Conservatory of Music in Detroit. Which became known as ” one of the most prestigious schools of its kind in the country”.
The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel is must watch television. The film demonstrates the imperfections of us as humans. The strength and determination of black women during a period when such drive was frowned upon. It also demonstrates the importance of sticking steadfast to your calling despite the offerings of the world. Job well done!