The new Lifetime movie, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, premiered April 11, and it shined a bright, bright light on the famous vocal group that brought gospel music to the mainstream audience. The group, which used to have five members, included Denise "Niecy" Clark Bradford, Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark, Jacky Clark Chisholm, Dorinda Clark Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard. The Clark Sisters made a big name for themselves, winning three Grammys, putting out 17 albums, and performing at Aretha Franklin's memorial.
But a lot was happening behind the scenes, and The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel dives into the making of the group, as well as its unraveling. After Denise left the group, the four sisters remained. Other key players are introduced, such as the sisters' choir director and mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, and their father, Elder Elbert Clark.
What ever happened to the Clark Sisters' father?
While we know Mattie died in 1994 (she passed due to complications from diabetes), not much is said about Elbert, who was Mattie's second husband. The two got married in 1952 and divorced in 1973. We know that there were "challenges" in their marriage, which Kierra Sheard (Karen Clark Sheard's daughter) plays in the Lifetime movie.
"I didn't know the dynamic of the details of the relationship until I got older, but to me he was still Pop Pop. It was never, no, 'You're divorced from Grandma,' and they never let us feel that."
Elder Elbert Clark was Dr. Mattie Moss Clark’s husband and father of Denise, Twinkie, Dorinda, and Karen. His daughters began singing in his church, Berea Church of God on the city’s Westside. He divorced their mother in 1973, around the time they took off as a group. pic.twitter.com/OMQFGzLAmw— Branden Hunter 🏁🐍 (@JustCallmeBHunt) April 12, 2020
Kierra confirmed with Essence that although he continued on with his church, Elbert passed away. It's unclear when or where this happened. "He kept his church going and he was very committed to that. Unfortunately, he is deceased now," she said. Although Kierra didn't know very much about what happened between Mattie and Elbert, she told Essence that he was abusive to her grandmother.
By playing her mother in The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, Kierra learned painful truths about her family, but she maintains seeing everything played out on screen "didn't make her uncomfortable."
You can stream The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel on Lifetime (if you sign in through your cable provider).