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Karen Clark Sheard
Gospel Legend Karen Clark Sheard Brings the Sunshine
By Shamerra T. Brown
When Karen Clark Sheard’s office staff called to say that she was running behind
schedule and that our interview would be postponed and shortened, my mind
started racing. I nearly panicked, wondering how I would get all my questions
answered in such a limited span. Then her assistant sent Karen’s humble
apologies, and it dawned on me how great of a legend, minister and servant she
is, and what a privilege it would be to have even one minute of her time.
Her track record is nothing short of impressive. As the youngest member of the
legendary Clark Sisters, Karen hails from one of the most defining Gospel music
heritages. She and her sisters began recording in 1973 and attracted a
mainstream audience when their song, “You Brought the Sunshine,” became a hit
in 1983. In 1997, Karen launched her solo career with the award-winning project,
Finally Karen. The album earned the Gospel darling four Stellar Awards and a
Grammy nomination. She’s recorded two successive hit CDs, The Heavens Are
Telling and Second Chance.
Karen is back with her fourth solo project, It’s Not Over, a live album, recorded at
her home church, Greater Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, where her
husband, Drew Sheard, is the pastor. Karen enlisted praise and worship genius
and gold-selling artist, Israel Houghton, to produce the live portion, while her
cousin and hit-making producer, James Moss, and Karen’s son, J. Drew,
produced the project’s studio tracks.
Turns out, I had a lot to think about while I waited. Her pitch-perfect soprano. Her
signature runs up and down the music scale. Her love for Jesus. Excitement set in
all over again.
Sometime later, the phone rings and Karen’s soft-spoken voice echoes the peace
of God, about whom she’s ministered to millions. We talked as Karen drove
around her native Detroit. It was a delightful little chat …
Shamerra T. Brown: Hello …
Karen Clark Sheard: Hi, is this Shamerra?…Are you ready to do this interview?
STB: Yes I am. Congratulations on your new album.
KCS: Oh thank you very much.
STB: Karen, you’ve established your own unique style in Gospel music. But, this
album is a departure from what we’d expect from you. You’ve got jubilee praise
and worship, warfare music, and some sacred worship ballads. Are these styles of
music you’ve always favored, or did they come as a result of working with Israel
KCS: It actually came thru experience, some of the dilemmas that I have
encountered within the last five years. The songs that were brought to me were at
such an appropriate time and, as you stated, that is the most powerful word for it -
the warfare and how the enemy wanted to take me out. So I wanted to come back
at him and what way other than through song and what I do? And of course,
through Israel and him bringing anointed music…it seemed like God just planned
it out…I call it my "weapon record." A weapon to throw back at the enemy
through ministry. Even though I went through what I went through, it actually built
me up, spiritually. Through my music, I’m really expressing that I can take
whatever the enemy tries to send to me. And I’m trying to let the people know that
they can go through, but it’s only for them to get to their destiny, and I believe
that that’s where I am now; God is placing me toward my destiny.
STB: When you say, “the things you went through,” are you referring to the
situation with your health, when you were in a coma?
KCS: Yes, I was at a point of death…