As the Gospel music explosion of the 1990s has resounded well into a new millennium, Karen Clark Sheard stands as a bridge between hallowed tradition and bold innovation. As the youngest member of the legendary Clark Sisters, and daughter of Gospel pioneer Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Karen Clark Sheard was part of one of the most popular and defining Gospel music families of the '80s and '90s. Recording their first album in 1980, Karen Clark Sheard and her sisters helped alter the course of modern Gospel music with their classic hit, "You Brought The Sunshine." Karen Clark Sheard began singing with the group at the age of seven and stayed with them until in 1997, when, with her sisters' blessings, she embarked on a solo career, releasing Finally Karen in the fall of that year. The album was an out-of-the gate smash, selling over 300,000 units, and garnering four Stellar Awards and a Grammy nomination.
Karen Clark Sheard's powerful soprano and multi-textured vocal runs and riffs have become signatures of her singular vocal style, and her talents have given inspiration to legions of followers, including mainstream R&B and pop stars like Mariah Carey, Kelly Price, Missy Elliott and Faith Evans, who, crediting Karen Clark Sheard and the Clark Sisters as one of the great musical inspirations of her life, dueted with Karen on a cut from Finally Karen. Karen Clark Sheard expresses gratitude for the praises of other such gifted artists, and also sees an opportunity to have an impact that is more than musical. "I talked with Missy Elliott," she recalls, "and we began just chatting about music; but it wasn't long before she told me how a number of the Clark Sisters' songs had really helped her get through difficult situations in her life. That really enlightened me to the influence Gospel music can have on lots of people who we may not have any idea we are impacting for the Lord. Faith Evans and I had a similar conversation that began with music and singing as our common denominator; but she grew up in the church too, and she's no stranger to the Word. And beyond the very gracious compliments she paid me, and of even far greater significance to me, was her telling me my songs had touched her life in important ways. Ministry is what I'm all about, and when I hear testimonies like that, it's very, very encouraging to me."
Karen Clark Sheard balances a life of music and ministry with her home life in Detroit as the wife of Greater Emmanuel's pastor, Reverend J. Drew Sheard, and the mother of two musically gifted children, Kierra "Kiki" Sheard - now a major-label recording artist in her own right - and John Jr. (J. Drew,) an aspiring producer who in fact already has two big-league credits on his résumé, having produced a pair of songs on his sister's hit debut project. Even with more achievements, acknowledgement and success to her credit than many people achieve in an entire lifetime, Karen speaks of the future like a woman whose mission and ministry has only just begun. "I looked at the world and I feel like there is a whole side of it that hasn't even been reached," she concludes. "There are so many millions of people who've never heard the Gospel message. And as long as there's even one soul that hasn't heard that message, my work here has not yet been accomplished. And it is work, but it's a calling, and it's a blessing, and it's a job that is never finished."
And her fourth solo album, and Word Records debut, It's Not Over, is proof positive that both the profound message and musical excitement that have always been the cornerstones of Gospel music still hold as strong and sturdy as ever. In the care of Karen Clark Sheard, a whole generation of musical visionaries has followed in her wake. Showing herself in complete stylistic command of everything from bedrock, traditional Gospel to up-to-the-minute contemporary, Karen Clark Sheard wraps her singular, signature voice around a soul-stirring set of praise & worship music that is nothing short of electrifying. It's Not Over captures all the passion of the Gospel tradition, filtering it through ultra-modern musical sensibilities, bringing together the best of both old and new into something fresh, exciting and totally original.
Listen to Christian Music Artist Karen Clark Sheard
|Finally Karen||1997||Island Records|
|The Heavens Are Telling||2003||Elektra|
|It's Not Over||2006||Word Records|
|All in One||2010||Word Records|