Life Story of Denise Clark-Bradford of The Clark Sisters

Denise Clark-Bradford is a former member of The Clark Sisters music group that made waves in Detroit Michigan during the 1960s, and 70s. She exited from the group sometime in 1986 because she got pregnant and was pressured to get rid of it.

Getting pregnant out of wedlock at a very young age didn’t drag Denise back from achieving her life goals, as she went on to become a minister of God, pastoring a church in California. She also engages in prison ministry and has a YouTube channel through which she reaches out to a wider audience. Denise is in the process of acquiring her Doctorate degree. She is also married and with seven children – all boys.

How Old is Denise Clark-Bradford?

Denise Clark-Bradford is 40 years old. She was born on September 10th, 1953 in Detroit, Michigan. She is of American nationality, though her physical appearance reveals her Afro-American heritage.

Denise was born to Elbert Clark (father) and Dr. Mattie Moss Clark (mother). Her father is a minister, however, nothing much is known about him. Her mother, on the other hand, was renowned as a musician and gospel choir director. She takes the credit for creating what is referred to as “the three-part harmony (this means separating vocal sounds into parts, including soprano, alto, and tenor).

This Mattie-championed technique is prevalent amongst gospel choirs today. Denise’s mum is already late, she was aged 69 at the time of her demise on the 22nd of September 1994.

Denise is One of Six Siblings

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, Denise Clark-Bradford spent her formative years with five siblings – one brother and four sisters who were all her mother, Dr. Mattie’s children. Her mother was first married to Leo H. Cullum Sr. before she got married to Denise’s father. During her first union, she had two children named Leo Jr. and Jacqueline (Jacky).

When she later married Pastor Elbert Clark, she went on to have four daughters – Elbernita (Twinkie), Dorinda, Karen, and Denise.

From the above explanation, it is glaring that Leo Jr. and Jacqueline (Jacky) are Denise’s half-siblings while Elbernita (Twinkie), Dorinda, and Karen are her biological siblings.

She is Currently Studying for her Doctorate Degree

Denise Clark-Bradford started her academic journey in Detroit where she spent her formative years. A well-read lady, Denise proceeded to the university after completing high school. Though the name of her tertiary institution and course of study is not known, she acquired a Bachelor’s degree upon her college graduation. The quest for further academic knowledge took Denise Clark-Bradford back to school to study for her Master’s. With her Master’s done and dusted, the she still went ahead to acquire a Doctorate, majoring in Divinity.

What does Denise Clark-Bradford Do for a Living?

Denise Clark-Bradford is into Gospel music and also functions as a preacher of the word of God. Just like every other child born to Dr. Mattie, she inherited artistic talent from her mother. She was still very young when she joined their church (Church of God in Christ) choir as a chorister. By the latter part of 1960, she and her sisters started performing concerts during their church services, entertaining the congregation with songs written by their mum.

Their mum takes the credit for formally creating the “The Clark Sisters” music group in 1973 comprising of her five daughters. The siblings went under the record label “Billesse” to launch their debut album titled Jesus Has a Lot to Give. The imprint was a convenient choice for them as it was based in their locality and belonged to their maternal uncle, Bill Moss. They then went on to make their debut TV appearance on the set of TV Gospel Time.

Denise Clark-Bradford
Jackie, Dorinda, Twinie, and Karen image source

One year later (in 1974), Denise Clark-Bradford and her sisters landed a recording deal with Sound of Gospel Records through which they dropped a plethora of albums, including Count It All Joy, Unworthy, and He Gave Me Nothing to Lose. The latter reached the top 20 on the Billboard Spiritual LPs chart.

While the Clark Sisters’ music group was complete, Denise was distinguished for her youthful high-pitched voice and piercing soprano vocals. She also drew attention with her runs and high melismas. The sisters were formidable together, gracing music show, concerts, tours, and their gigs in the choir. The group remained solidly glued until 1986 when Denise Clark-Bradford suddenly left.

The Clark Sisters Music Group

The Clark Sisters made waves in the 1960s and 70s as an American gospel vocal group. It originally consisted of sisters Jacky Clark Chisholm (the oldest of the group born in 1948), Denise “Niecy” Clark-Bradford (the second oldest (born in 1953), Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark (b. 1954), Dorinda Clark-Cole (b. 1957), and the baby of the family, Karen Clark Sheard (b. 1960).

The Clark sister helped in bringing gospel music from obscurity to the mainstream and are dubbed pioneers of contemporary gospel. The group made their debut sometime in the early part of 1966 and to date, they have dropped over 20 studio albums and counting.

As they continued to wow their audience, the Clark sisters also produced their own Lifetime movie entitled The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. The plot focused on their lives, including rivalry among them, it also helped in figuring out what became of their estranged sister, Denise Clark.

In the movie, Jackie, the oldest of the group is portrayed as the most experienced. She has since gone solo and her single titled Feel Good, featuring Mary J. Blige, dropped in 2020. Jack is also a certified nurse and works in the health sector.

Dorinda Clark-Cole goes by the title, “a fired-up sister for Christ”. Besides, she is listed among the most gifted singers in the entire music world today.” She has done wonderfully well as a solo artist with successful music concerts and shows. Dorinda was a music teacher in Detroit, precisely at the Clark Conservatory of Music. However. She has recorded some serious shortcomings. This particular Clark sister was deep in addiction and even contemplated suicide, but she was able to emerge successfully on the other side and is currently a mental health advocate.

Twinkie Clark is dubbed “the heart and soul of the Clark Sisters music group”. She takes the credit for writing a majority of the group’s songs and has released a single in 2020 titled In My Spirit.

The baby of the family, Karen Clark Sheard, has won millions of hearts, including Grammys. Her solo album which dropped in 1998 catapulted her into stardom. Karen distinguished herself from the brood by merging gospel music with R&B and the result was exponential. Her successful collaborations is another ingredient that saw her rise above other.

As Denise did not personally participate in the making of her family biopic, it goes without saying that there would be some deficiencies in representing her personality on set and this was exactly what happened. The estranged Clark sister once voiced out that they didn’t write some of her major contributions into the movie. However, she didn’t seem to mind being depicted in the production and has severally praised the cast members.

Denise Clark-Bradford Exit From The Clark Sister’s Music Group

Right from the word go, other members of the gospel music group had always entertained the fear that Denise Clark-Bradford would one day leave the group. This fear was born out of Denise’s behavior as she had shown signs of going against their mum’s very strict religious rules which governed the Clark household. True to the sisters’ speculation, their sister did exactly what they expected, leaving the group with only four vocalists to carry on.

Denise’s exit in 1986 did not douse the Clark sisters shine one bit as Jacky, Twinkie, Dorinda, and Karen went on to sign with Rejoice Records and continued releasing captivating gospel tracks and albums.

Because of her absence from the music group, the Clark sisters had to resort to using their niece, Kierra Sheard, to portray Denise’s character in the family movie, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. Kierra is the daughter of Karen Clark-Sheard and she is the one who shed some light on the current status of her aunt’s relationship with the family. According to the young lady, the family has been making attempts to integrate her aunt back into the fold but the journey hasn’t been a smooth one.

Even though they have not succeeded in integrating Denise Clark-Bradford back into the fold, Kierra seemed to have developed a good relationship with her aunt. She described her aunt in glowing terms when she said Denise has a super vibrant personality and was super fun when they talked for the first time.

On her own part, Denise appears to be reciprocating the love she is getting from Kierra, she wished the young lady well on her last birthday with a heartwarming Instagram message.

Talking about the reason she decided to reach out to Denise, Kierra said she became so eager to meet her aunt because her own mother, Karen said they have a lot of similarities. Karen would often tell Kierra that she sees a lot of Denise in her with her outspoken nature, love for reading, and being informed. Though the relationship she has established with her aunt so far has remained distant, Kierra said she has connected with Denise’s children.

The youngster said her greatest hope is that the Clark sisters would one day unite and it would be super dope when it happens and going forward, they would ensure that everyone is in one accord.

The Real Reason Denise Clark Bradford Left The Clark Sisters

Following Denise’s sudden exit from the Clark Sister’s music group, speculations ran rife about the possible reasons that led to her exit and estrangement from the family. Many came to the conclusion that she was probably kicked out by her own siblings but that was far from the truth.

After many years, Denise Clark-Bradford herself came up to debunk the claims. According to her, she was never kicked out of her family music group, rather, she got pregnant by a bishop (name withheld) who wanted her to abort the pregnancy. She also said she was counseled to get rid of the pregnancy but wouldn’t have any of it.

After she left the group, Denise also went into obscurity and only surfaced on Facebook in 2019 with a post saying how much she loved her siblings and parents. Going on, Denise talked about the disgrace she has witnessed from her family but chose to keep quiet about it just to avoid pressure or tension.

Denise also shed light on the reason they have continued to experience conflict in the Clark family. According to her, she once traveled down to Detroit to see Twinkie who was sick and hospitalized. On getting there, the family didn’t allow her entrance and she never saw Twinkie despite traveling a long distance to get there.

The next time she would see her family was in 1994 when their mother died. All these did not make the Clark sisters’ relationship any better as they still remain distant to date.

Denise Clark-Bradford is Married with Children

In Denise Clark-Bradford’s personal life, motherhood preceded marriage as she had the child from the pregnancy that led to her estrangement from her family, which made her a mother at a very young age. However, she later found love and got married but refused to reveal her husband’s identity to date.

After her first child, Denise went on to have an additional six children – all boys. Out of her kids, only two seem to be following the family tradition.One of them is Larry Clark who grew up to become renowned as a producer, singer, and songwriter. He takes the credit for producing songs for his aunts Elbernita Clark and Karen Clark-Sheard in their individual solo careers.

Denise’s other son, Lorenzo Clark, also has something to do with the music industry. Jacky Clark-Chisholm’s album entitled Expectancy featured him in its videos; the album dropped on March 29, 2005.

Where is Denise Clark from The Clark Sisters Today?

After she left the family music group, Denise Clark-Bradford sparked a lot of rumors and many believed her to be dead. However, it soon came to the fore that she didn’t die but had gotten married and went to live in California with her spouse.

Apart from her marriage, Denise has also continued ministering in the vineyard of the lord. In addition to pastoring a Californian-based church, she has a YouTube channel that she leverages in preaching the gospel. She also ministers in music and is active in prison ministries.

Her ministry works notwithstanding, Denise also found the time to go back to school, and today, she is a student at one of the Californian universities pursuing a Doctorate degree in Christian Theology.

When she appeared on Facebook in 2019, she only came to give her version of the story and though she confesses to loving her family, their relationship has continued to be strained to date.

Chidiebube has been writing and editing articles on movies, entertainment and other juicy things for several years. When he is not writing, he spends time outdoors, lost in the beauty of nature or simply travelling around the world. Thank goodness he can do the later with any internet-enabled device


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