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Interviews
: Jacky Clark-Chisholm


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Listen to tracks from
"Expectancy"

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Blessing Me

 

Thereís a certain Ďexpectancyí on the part of the public, when the Clark Sisters take any concert stage or church podium.  From their earliest days at the annual C.O.G.I.C. convocation services, Twinkie, Dorinda, Karen, Jacky and Denise have been turning the concert halls out and setting church sanctuaries on spiritual fire.  A palpable energy takes over the room and an undeniable spirit of healing consumes the beholder, as the first ladies of Gospel music get into their set of harmonies that leaves all spectators in awe and holy worship mode.   

Itís from this remarkable genesis that the incredible Clark Sisters would each launch their individual solo careers, with Twinkie, Karen and Dorinda all sharing a personal testimony of faith in songÖwhich brings us today to the ministry of Jacky Clark Chisholm.   

After playing the role of loyal sister and strong harmonizer within the group for over twenty years, Jacky Clark has found her own voice and testimony which can be heard on her debut release called Expectancy (Entheos).  Her personality and genuine heart for worship shines through on her album and in our recent sit-down with Mrs. Jacky Clark Chisholm.  After you read our exclusive dialogue with Jackie Clark, youíll recognize her unique personality and spirit that has contributed to the Clark Sisters success.   

Christopher Heron: The ministry of The Clark Sisters isnít properly understood unless we discuss the influence of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark.  As you see it, what is Dr. Clarkís legacy on the Clark Sisters, both as women and as artists?

Jacky Clark Chisholm: First of all, sheís our mother so the instinct and gifts we have really come from her.  She taught us how to behave and the way to sing and the way to act.  We were a product of her seed.  Her influence was a great lesson for us.  The mentality that she instilled in us as women living to be Christian, being true to the Word of God and being able to live pure to the Word of God, thatís all her.  That's why she was there for in our lives.  We couldnít do anything else, we didnít have a choice.  You had to live saved.  You didnít have a choice about whether you wanted to live saved or not, that was just the way it was.

CH: You continued where your mother left off by playing an integral role as the director for the COGIC National Youth Choir.  What are some of the valuable lessons you learned in regards to directing a mass choir and bringing the best out of the young people in the church?

JCC: What was an important lesson for me was the fact that when my mother sang the song, I directed the song.  So my humble beginnings, as far as directing and writing is concerned, came when I was just a young girl, being under her direction while she was working with choir.  I think the reason why she really pulled us into what she was doing was because she had all these daughters and one boy.  Rather than leave us at home or in other peopleís hands, she made sure that we were always present with her.  Everything we actually know we learned from her.  And it propelled me into what I do now.  Iím very humbled by the opportunity to work with the National C.O.G.I.C. Church Youth Choir. I also direct the youth at my church in Detroit where Bishop Brooks is my pastor.  He awarded me the opportunity to work with the youth choir at home.  But my greatest responsibility and my greatest love is working with the youth department in the COGIC.

CH: I couple of my favorite vintage LPs features the Clark Sisters, which includes, But All To Gainí from '79 and ĎYou Brought The Sunshineí in '81.  I see Dorinda, Karen, Twinkie and yourself, while Denise is missing in You Brought the Sunshine.  Did the Clark Sisters ever consider disbanding when Denise left? 

JCC: Weíve made it a point to stay together because we are sisters, our bond is so close because of the way my mother raised us.  My mother told us at that point, ďDonít let anybody stop you.  You keep going, if you donít have but two, you keep going and you strive because thatís what God would want you to do." 

The most blessed thing that has happened for the Clark Sisters is the thing my mother prayed for more than anything - for the anointing to be on us.  If you notice, everybody does a wonderful job by themselves, but the chemistry and bond we have as sisters, the anointing is so much more obvious when weíre together.  Because of the way we were raised, because of the anointing I feel my mother prayed upon us, it has never left us.  One of the things my mother instilled in us was to protect the anointing God gives you, so we donít take that for granted and itís made us the women we are today.  I am truly, truly grateful and I give all honor to God because if it wasnít for Him we wouldnít be where we are today.

CH: Letís talk about the anointing on the Clark Sisters.  Over the years, there have been some remarkable sister groups in gospel music like The Barrett Sisters and The Anointed Pace Sisters Ė yet most Gospel fans refer to the Clark Sisters.  What do you think has been so magical and special about your sisters that you continue to capture the imagination of Gospel fans over a generation?

JCC: I think itís chemistry and our love for one another.  My mother really, really instilled in us to never let anybody tear us apart from each other, always stay together, no matter what happens we need to stay together.  She taught us that very early in life so we try to hold true to that.  I just feel itís something we respect even in her absence.  We respected what she would respect how mama would feel.  Even today, we refer to 'If mama were here, she would do this, or mama would say that, or mama would make you do this.'

Aside from the fact that we are all saved and all live that life, another thing mama also taught us is that you have to live a life that you are going to sing about.  You canít get onstage and sing a specific thing and then get off the stage and do something else.  Your life has to be exemplary in order to pursue the Lord.  Living what we say we live, trying to be really separated and really be pure to the Word of God is important.  That is the reason why we have had such longevity.  Itís just an anointing that God has given us.  I donít know of any other thing to say, thatís really the essence of the Clark Sisters.

CH:  You have stepped out of the shadows and out of your personal comfort zone, amongst your sisters, to release your solo album Ė Expectancy (Entheos).  You have your beloved sisters by your side featured on Blessing Me and your dear friend Ron Winans.  Tell us what was the motivation and inspiration to share your particular ministry with the world as a solo artist?

JCC: I donít sing like my sisters.  That is the first thing we need to understand.  My sisters are such phenomenal singers.  I always felt like nobody really wanted to hear my voice and that I really wasnít ÖI guessÖ I donít want to use the word Ďworthy.í  I didnít think that it was something people would really want to hear because I have such a soft melodious voice.  I didnít think that people would welcome me the same way.  People have a tendency to be cruel at times.  So sometimes when you already feel that you donít match up to what people want, you feel like they donít want to hear that so I kind of stayed in the background.  And it was an OK place for me because at that time it was a safe place for me.

However I felt like God wanted to use me in some special area.  Iím a nurse by profession.  One of the things that the Lord really dealt with me about was healing; not only of the physical body but healing of the spiritual body as well.  There are so many people, even in the church, who are being hurt on a day-to-day basis.  They need to understand that that is not what God would have for them.  God is about love and God desires that for us.  If weíre walking in the way He would have us to walk, then we are to show love - no matter what.  So, the Lord gave to me that healing was a crucial thing for Godís people.

The recording is something I felt I should do.  The more I tried to stay away from it, the more I prayed about it.  I said "Lord, if itís not meant to come to pass then donít let it happen."  And then the Lord started letting things happen for me and I began to feel a little bit better about it.  Then I met a gentleman by the name of Carnell Murrell.  I didnít know anything about Carnell Murrell, even though heís been a recording artist with Savoy.  We talked for a moment, set up a time, met and he asked me what my thoughts were about recording an album.  I began to share with him that it was all about healing.  

One of the most important things that I have always expressed is that I just wanted people to be blessed by the music, not so much by rap and beats and all that.  I just want people to be blessed by the music.  I want people to actually sit down and listen to the music.  Itís very simple.  Itís nothing that very complex.  Anybody can sing it.

When people are alone is when they feel the most despair.  In a despair situation, they can put the music on and let the music move through them.  It can break yokes, break situations and make them realize that God loves them.  God is about healing, the oil of God can penetrate any area of your life and heal that area.  

I think about the process of healing, Iím a wound care specialist nurse.  A lot of times when I treat people, I donít think of myself as anything special.  Iím just a vessel and a servant for the Lord - I just want to be a servant and thatís it!  Iím not asking for a title, Iím not asking for anything great 'cause thereís nothing great about me.  The thing that I would like to be remembered about is that Iím just a humble servant for the Lord and that's it.  

I believe our mission and purpose is to be about our Father's business and make sure that people know about the Lord.  Every opportunity I get to minister to somebody, I do it.  I donít care who it is to, I donít care where I am.  Iím not ashamed of the Gospel and Iím not ashamed to witness to people.  So my whole purpose for the album was to bless people.  It's not that I'm a fantastic singer because thatís not something that I'm acclaimed for; Iím a simple singer.  I want people to be blessed by what God gave me through the music and through the people who worked so diligently with me to see that it happens!   

 

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Were you blessed by this interview? Please send feedback to features@blackgospel.com.

Posted: May.2005

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