Karen Clark Sheard

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Karen Clark-Sheard
Karen Clark Sheard Pointing.jpg
Background information
Birth nameKaren Valencia Clark
Also known asKaren Clark-Sheard
Born (1960-11-15) November 15, 1960 (age 61)[1]
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
OriginDetroit, Michigan
Genres
Occupation(s)
Instrument(s)
Years active1966–present
Labels
Websitetheclarksisters.net
karewrecords.com

Karen Valencia Clark Sheard (née Clark; born November 15, 1960) is an American Grammy Award–winning Gospel singer, musician, songwriter, and businesswoman. Clark-Sheard is the wife of the current Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard and she serves as the current First Lady of the COGIC denomination. Clark–Sheard is the youngest member of gospel group the Clark Sisters. She is also the mother of contemporary gospel singer and actress Kierra "Kiki" Sheard. She has released five solo albums, seventeen with the Clark Sisters, and collaborated with her son J. Drew Sheard II and her daughter Kierra Sheard.

During the hiatus of the Clark Sisters, Clark–Sheard recorded her critically acclaimed solo album Finally Karen, which spawned her hit, "Balm in Gilead" (a re-recording of a song she originally recorded as part of the Clark Sisters in the 1980s for their Heart & Soul album) the R&B-flavored "Just For Me" and "Nothing Without You" – a contemporary duet with R&B diva Faith Evans. Finally Karen became one of the most successful gospel albums of 1998 earning Sheard a Grammy nomination and a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for "Best Female Vocalist".[2]

After her debut album and touring, Clark–Sheard was hospitalized in 2001 after a blood vessel burst during a cosmetic procedure, resulting in doctors giving her a 2% chance of survival. The experience inspired the title for her second album, 2nd Chance, released in 2002. Clark–Sheard recorded two more live albums, including The Heavens Are Telling and It's Not Over (which featured some studio recordings), before releasing All in One, Clark–Sheard's first all-studio-recorded album in 13 years. The album debuted at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Chart and #98 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart, while its first single "Prayed Up" peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Songs chart.[3]

Singers Beyoncé and Mariah Carey count Karen Clark-Sheard as one of their vocal influences.[4]

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Clark–Sheard was born Karen Valencia Clark on November 15, 1960, in Detroit, Michigan, the youngest child of Reverend Elbert Clark and Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, a gospel choral director. The youngest of six children, Clark–Sheard's siblings are Leo, Jacky, Denise, Elbernita "Twinkie" and Dorinda. Clark–Sheard began singing gospel with her sisters at age 5 in what became known as the Clark Sisters. For high school, Clark-Sheard attended Mumford High School in Detroit, Michigan, graduating in 1979.

Career[edit]

The Clark Sisters[edit]

Debut album[edit]

Clark–Sheard's involvement in the Island Inspirational All Stars' "Don't Give Up" in 1996 (along with Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker, and Kirk Franklin) led to her signing with Island Records.[5] Clark–Sheard's solo career began with the release of her debut album Finally Karen in 1997. The album, consisting of half studio recordings and half live recordings, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 1998, won Clark-Sheard the Lady of Soul award for Best Gospel Album that same year[6] and peaked at #28 and #2 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and U.S. Billboard Gospel Albums charts respectively.

2nd Chance[edit]

After Yolanda Adams, Clark-Sheard became the 2nd gospel artist to sign to Elektra Records. She released her Elektra debut album 2nd Chance in 2002 (so named because of the "second chance" she was given by God after her near-death experience – which is referenced in her daughter Kierra's song "You Don't Know").[7] The album was led off by the single "Be Sure". The album reached #82 on the U.S. Billboard 200, #27 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (her highest chartings on those charts to date) and #2 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Albums.

The Heavens Are Telling[edit]

The 2003 followup The Heavens Are Telling came when Elektra Records was being dissolved into Atlantic Records, and failed to match the commercial success of Clark-Sheard's previous albums, peaking 106 places below 2nd Chance at #188 on the U.S. Billboard 200 – though it managed to reach #44 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, a high #3 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Albums chart and was her first album to chart on the U.S. Billboard Christian Albums chart, where it peaked at #11.[8]

It's Not Over[edit]

In 2005, after a bidding war with several labels, Clark-Sheard signed with Word Records and issued It's Not Over (originally titled Finally Karen Returns), the sequel to her 1997 debut album Finally Karen was set to be released November 15, 2005, Clark-Sheard's 45th birthday, but was delayed and released the following year. Most of It's Not Over was recorded in 2005 at Karen's home church in Detroit, Michigan, while the last three tracks were studio-recorded.

It was Clark-Sheard's first solo album not to feature guest vocals from her daughter (Kierra Sheard) and was the first to include production from Israel Houghton – who handled the majority of the project. It charted at #124 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and #4 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[8][9] As the songwriter, on February 10, 2008, Clark-Sheard won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song for "Blessed & Highly Favored" sung by the Clark Sisters.

Karew Records, 5th album and present[edit]

In early 2009, Clark-Sheard and her husband, J.Drew Sheard, partnered together and launched a new record label entitled Karew Records (Karew being a combination of both their forenames: Karen and Drew, pronounced: Kuh-rue); Distribution is via EMI Gospel. The Clark Sisters' Christmas album – which was released in October 2009 – was the first project to be released from Karew Records.

On January 31, 2010, Clark-Sheard won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance for Wait on the Lord which she was featured with Donnie McClurkin. On April 6, 2010, Clark-Sheard released her fifth album (and first on her newly founded own record label – Karew Records) titled All in One, which features additional vocals from her daughter Kierra Sheard, son J. Drew Sheard II, sister Dorinda Clark Cole, niece Angel Chisholm and cousin J. Moss. Her first all-studio-recorded album since her 2002 release 2nd Chance, All in One debuted and peaked at #98 on the U.S. Billboard 200 (her second highest charting on that chart to date) and #3 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Albums chart, while the album's lead single – "Prayed Up" – peaked at #9 and stayed over 22 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. Clark-Sheard released her latest single "Sunday A.M" in 2014, which is nominated for the Best Gospel Song in the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

As of 2019, Clark-Sheard is in talks to play Kitty Parham, a member of the Famous Ward Singers in Aretha Franklin's upcoming biopic Respect.[10]

Karen was portrayed by her daughter, Kierra Sheard in the Lifetime TV biopic The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, released April 11, 2020.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Marriage and family[edit]

Clark-Sheard married Bishop J. Drew Sheard, a Detroit-based minister, on June 16, 1984. Clark-Sheard serves as the First Lady of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ in Detroit, where her husband is senior pastor. In March 2021, Bishop Sheard was elected to serve as the Presiding Bishop of the COGIC denomination, thus making her the First Lady of the COGIC denomination at-large as well. Together they have two children: Kierra "Kiki" Sheard-Kelly (1987) and John Drew "J. Drew" Sheard II (1989). Another pregnancy ended in a stillbirth.[12] Kiki is also a gospel recording artist, with four albums, plus various projects to her credit. J. Drew is a musician and producer who often plays drums for the Clark Sisters.

Health[edit]

In 2001, Clark-Sheard was faced with a life-threatening crisis when a blood vessel burst during a scheduled bariatric surgery. Her doctors only gave her a 2% chance of survival due to her complications. After the blood clot was surgically removed, Clark-Sheard fell into a coma. The coma lasted three and a half weeks,[13] but Clark-Sheard says she made a miraculous[14][15] recovery.

Tours and concerts[edit]

  • (1989) The Clark Sisters: Bringing It Back Home
  • (1997) Finally Karen
  • (2007-2008) The Clark Sisters: Live One Last Time Tour
  • (2016-2017) Festival Of Praise
  • (2016-2017) McDonald's Celebration of Gospel
  • (2020) The Clark Sisters Virtual Experience

Filmography[edit]

Discography[edit]

Compilations[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

Awards[edit]

BET Awards[edit]

The BET Awards are awarded annually by the Black Entertainment Television network. Karen Clark Sheard has received 3 nominations.

Year Nominated work Award Result
2008 The Clark Sisters Best Gospel Artist Nominated
2011 Karen Clark Sheard Nominated
2020 "Victory" Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award Nominated

Dove Awards[edit]

The Dove Awards are awarded annually by the Gospel Music Association. The Clark Sisters have won 2 awards from 8 nominations.[16]

Year Nominated work Award Result
1987 Heart & Soul Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year Won
2007 It's Not Over Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year Won
2008 The Clark Sisters Artist of the Year Nominated
Group of the Year Nominated
"Blessed and Highly Favored" Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
Live – One Last Time Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year Nominated
2020 Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year "Victory" Nominated
Inspirational Film of the Year The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel Nominated
Traditional Gospel Album of the Year The Return Won

Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Karen Clark Sheard has won 4 awards from 12 nominations.[17][18]

Year Nominated work Award Result
1983 Sincerely Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1987 Heart & Soul Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus Nominated
1988 Conqueror Nominated
1990 Bringing it Back Home Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album Nominated
1999 Finally Karen Best Contemporary Gospel Soul Album Nominated
2007 "Blessed & Highly Favored" Best Gospel Performance Won
Best Gospel Song Won
Live: One Last Time Best Traditional Gospel Album Won
2009 "Higher Ground" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
"Wait on the Lord" (with Donnie McClurkin) Best Gospel Performance Won
2010 All In One Best Traditional Gospel Album Nominated
2015 Destined To Win (Live) Best Gospel Album Nominated

NAACP Image Awards[edit]

The NAACP Image Awards are awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Clark Sheard has won 2 awards from 4 nominations.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1983 The Clark Sisters Outstanding Gospel Artist Won
1989 Nominated
2020 "Victory" Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song – Traditional or Contemporary Nominated
2021 The Return Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album Won

Soul Train Awards[edit]

The Soul Train Music Awards are awarded annually. Karen Clark Sheard has won 1 award from 5 nominations.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1988 Heart & Soul Best Gospel Album – Group or Choir Nominated
1989 Conqueror Best Gospel Album Nominated
1998 Finally Karen Lady of Soul Best Gospel Album Won
2005 The Heavens Are Telling Best Gospel Album Nominated
2020 The Clark Sisters Best Gospel/Inspirational Award [19] Nominated

Stellar Awards[edit]

The Stellar Awards are awarded annually by SAGMA. Karen Clark Sheard has received 9 awards and 1 honorary award.

Year Nominated work Award Result
2004 2nd Chance Female Vocalist of the Year Nominated
Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year Nominated
Contemporary CD of the Year Nominated
2005 "We Acknowledge You" Song of the Year Nominated
The Heavens Are Telling CD of the Year Nominated
Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year Nominated
2007 It's Not Over Nominated
2008 Live... One Last Time CD of the Year Won
Artist of the Year Won
Group or Duo of the Year Won
Traditional Group/Duo of the Year Won
"Blessed and Highly Favored" Song of the Year Nominated
2009 Encore: The Best of the Clark Sisters Special Event CD of the Year Won
2010 Silky Soul Music... An All-Star Tribute to Maze (with Kierra Sheard and J. Moss) Won
2011 All In One Female Vocalist of the Year Won
Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year Nominated
2016 Destined To Win Nominated
2020 The Clark Sisters James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award Honored
2021 The Return Contemporary Duo/Group Chorus of the Year Won
Duo/Group Chorus of the Year Nominated
Gospel According to PJ Traditional Duo/Group Chorus of the Year Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clark-Sheard's Twitter
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2010-06-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Crazy Praise – Karen Clark Sheard". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  4. ^ Jones, Steven. "An interview with Karen Clark Sheard". GospelFlava.com.
  5. ^ "Karen Clark Sheard". GospelCity.com. March 22, 2000. Archived from the original on April 27, 2006. Retrieved December 12, 2006.
  6. ^ "Award Nominations at The Envelope". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ McIntyre, Donald; Kiel, Danna (August 1, 2002). "Karen Clark Sheard Gets '2nd Chance'". EURweb.com.
  8. ^ a b "The Heavens Are Telling – Karen Clark Sheard". Billboard.com.
  9. ^ "It's Not Over – Karen Clark Sheard". Billboard.com.
  10. ^ "Karen Clark Sheard in Talks to Play Aretha Franklin". 28 April 2010.
  11. ^ "The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (TV Movie 2020) - IMDb".
  12. ^ Sheard, Kierra. "Kierra Sheard - Mommy and Me". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  13. ^ Taylor, LaTonya (February 20, 2006). "Back From The Dead". Christianity Today.
  14. ^ Gospel City Interview Archived 2005-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Christian Music Planet
  16. ^ "Past Winners". Dove Awards. Enter 'The Clark Sisters' into the 'Search:' field to see list of awards. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  17. ^ "Clark Sisters". Grammy.com. Recording Academy. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  18. ^ "Karen Clark-Sheard". Grammy Awards. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  19. ^ Paul Grein (November 11, 2020). "H.E.R. & Chris Brown Lead 2020 Soul Train Awards Nominations: Here's the Complete List". Retrieved November 11, 2020.

External links[edit]