How The First Ladies of Gospel Are Making an Impact

By: A’Breya Young

The Clark Sisters is one of the most notable gospel groups of the 20th century. Recently, a biopic of the Clark Sisters premiered on Lifetime Network, and fans didn’t have high hopes, with the network gaining a negative reputation for the fairish films they released in the past. Fortunately, this film was well-received, hitting a staggering number in viewership and becoming the highest-rated Lifetime original movies since 2016. As the movie recounts the history of the loss, abuse, discrimination, and rejection these sisters endured, it resonated with the struggle and beauty of being a black woman in the eye of fame. 

The Path to Stardom

It all began in Detroit, Michigan. Jackie, Denise, Dorinda, Karen, and Twinkie all learned to sing from their mother Mattie Moss Clark. One thing that Mattie expected from all of her girls was perfection and the word “can’t ” wasn’t in her vocabulary. For many years, the Clark family grew up in church and ministered to different congregations through the form of music. Twinkie Clark, aka the organ queen, wrote and played many songs performed by the group while having the responsibility of taking over the group as a teenager. In 1973, with the help of their uncle, the sisters recorded their first album, “Jesus Has A Lot to Give” through his record label, Billmo Records. After years of receiving many awards and gaining a lot of recognition, fans were curious to know what happened when the cameras turned off. 

The Feminine Crew 

Grammy award-winners Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Missy Elliott came together in producing “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.” In an interview, Blige stressed how the Clarks’ anointing built her into the artist she is today: “Seeing their story was like seeing what do our angels go through? They’ve been my Earth angels. So we all want to see what their life was like. What did they sacrifice? What did they give up to save our lives? That’s why we’re telling the story.” The entire crew behind this film worked tirelessly to draw out how struggle and sacrifice can influence and draw people together–especially women. In this production, black women filled every leadership position, which displayed the change of traditional ideas. The movie addressed how Mattie Clark was abused, being a woman of color. Despite these challenges, Ms.Clark taught her daughters to do their best to excel at everything they did so people could know what women were capable of. Now, the Clark Sisters are one of the most successful female gospel groups, and they are motivating women to bring an end to male domination in the industry.

The Power of the Film 

Even through hard trials and tribulations, the Clark Sisters still used their gifts to reach audiences around the world. This film illustrates how the sisters promoted the importance of women empowerment. The faith these sisters hold in Christ gave them the strength to spread such a strong message on stage and screen.


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