by: LaShaunda McWright
Before the illustrious sounds of the Grammy-Award Winning Clark Sisters, was the Minister of Music, composer, arranger and writer, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Born Mattie Juliet Moss on March 26, 1925, in Selma, AL, she learned how to play the piano at the tender age of six. Just one year shy of becoming a teenager, she began playing at her mother’s church – a Methodist denomination, the Church of Christ and Prayer. After graduating high school, she attended Selma University where she studied classical music and choral singing. Known for establishing three part harmonies, she is one of the greatest in music.
In December , 1945, she married her first husband Leo Henry Cullum, Sr. and had two children – Leo Henry Cullum, Jr. and Jacqueline Lenita “Jacky”. Their marriage ended in divorce. Moving in with her sister, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark relocated to Detroit, MI where she continued her musical and compositional talents. She joined the Greater Love Tabernacle Church of God in Christ (COGIC). She later met and married Elder Elbert Clark where they had four children together – Denise Darchell, Elbernita, Dorinda, and Karen. All of the children being blessed with their mother’s musical talents were mentored by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark where they sang in their choir at their father’s church. By 1973, she formed a group “The Clark Sisters” with her daughters as the singers.
Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was a choir director most of her life. She became the musical minister of the Greater Love Tabernacle (COGIC) and later served as music minister for the city’s Bailey Temple COGIC – under the direction of Bishop John Seth Bailey. Dr. Mattie Moss Clark organized the Southwest Michigan and in 1961, the choir released its debut album “Lord, Do Something For Me” on Kapp Records.
With Dr. Mattie Moss Clark serving as the choir’s director, songwriter, trainer and arranger, the choir was signed to Savoy Records. Dr. Moss Clark’s perfection of music carried the mass choir’s magnificent three-part harmony into success, releasing several popular singles “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “I Thank You Lord” and Climbing Up The Mountain which made them a force to be reckoned with.
In a short period of time, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was able to educate numerous choristers, teaching them her new compositions. She became the the Director of the International Music Department of the Church of God In Christ and also formed the International Mass Choir.
By 1973, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark decided to take her daughters to a higher level and promote them into a singing group. This is the moment The Clark Sisters – Jacky, Dorinda, Elbernita, Denise and Karen were formed. The ladies recorded and released their first Uncle Bill and Aunt Bessie’s record label Bilesse Records a year later. Their title track “You Brought The Sunshine” placed the group at the charts and gave them the exposure to make them the number one female gospel group in history.
Songwriter, Vocalist, Pianist, Arranger, and Choir Director
Trinity College in Ambridge, PA conferred upon Dr. Mattie Moss Clark one of their highest honors, the degree of Doctor of Humanity.
One of the first gospel artists to receive a gold-certified album
Mother and Founder of the Grammy-Winning Number One Female Gospel Group – “The Clark Sisters
Creator of the three-part harmony that is popular in choirs today.
Recorded more than 35 albums during her career
Organized the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ
Founder of the Clark Conservatory School of Music in Detroit.
Inspite of her complications with diabetes, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark’s love for music motivated her to continue to record music and perform. She passed responsibility of the group “The Clark Sisters to Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark who became the leader of the group. On September 22, 1994, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark lost her battle with diabetes and passed away. Her legacy lives on through her daughters and she remains a pivotal figure in gospel music.
Last.fm – https://www.last.fm/music/Dr.+Matte+Moss+Clark/+wiki
Black Music Scholars – www.blackmusicscholars.com
AllMusic – https://allmusic.com/artist/mattie-moss-clark-mn0000170806
KNCB.org – https://www.kncb.org/2015/10/05/mattie-moss-clark
BelieverSportal – https://believersportal.com/biography- mattie-moss-clark-gospel-artist.com
URBANBRIGDEZ.COM – https://urbanbridgez.com/2020/04/11/ub-celebrates-the-clark-sisters-and-dr–mattie-moss-clark/