Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was a gospel choir director and the mother of the world-renowned gospel vocal group, The Clark Sisters. Clark is credited for creating the three-part harmony (separating vocal parts into soprano, alto and tenor), a technique which is prevalent among gospel choirs today.
Born the seventh of nine children on March 26, 1925 in Selma, Alabama. She began playing the piano when she was six years old. By 12, she became the musician for her mother’s services at the Church of Christ and Prayer. After high school, she attended Selma University and received training in classical music and choral singing. In addition, she continued to travel with her mother and play at her mission services.
Dr. Clark moved to Detroit in 1947 and shortly thereafter organized the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ. In 1958, she recorded “Going to Heaven to Meet the King”, with the Southwest Michigan State Choir, becoming the first person to commit the sounds of a choir to record. She was also the first person to separate vocal parts into soprano, alto and tenor. She received three gold albums with the Southwest Michigan State Choir, and went on to write and arrange hundreds of songs and recorded over 50 albums.
In addition to being a songwriter, vocalist, pianist, arranger, and choir director, Dr. Clark was also president of the National Music Deptartment of the Church of God in Christ for 25 years, and founded the Clark Conservatory School of Music in Detroit. Her legacy has created and helped to shape some of the most successful gospel artists including Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Donald Vails, Commissioned, Esther Smith, Keith Pringle, Rev. Rance Allen, the late Rev. James Moore and her own daughters, The Clark Sisters. She taught that one should never try to sing, preach, teach, or reach without prayer and that Christ must always be the center of attraction and the center of one’s life.
Dr. Clark was diagnosed with Diabetes, but even as her health declined, she never lost the fire and passion for her mission. She learned to give all she had with whatever God gave her and believed He would do the rest. Dr. Clark died on Thursday, September 22, 1994 in Southfield, Michigan. The legacy of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark is one that will stand as a testament to the anointing of God and his gifts, what she accomplished is matched by only a handful of anointed vessels, cementing her standing as a exemplary woman of God. Dr. Clark would have been 84 today.