Karen Valencia Clark Sheard (née Clark; born November 15, 1960) is an American Grammy Award-winning Gospel singer, musician, songwriter, and businesswoman. Clark-Sheard is the wife of the current Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard and she serves as the current First Lady of the COGIC denomination. Clark–Sheard is best known as the youngest member of influential gospel group the Clark Sisters. Clark–Sheard is also the mother of contemporary gospel singer and actress Kierra "Kiki" Sheard. She has released five solo albums, seventeen with the Clark Sisters and collaborated with her son J. Drew Sheard II and her daughter Kierra Sheard.
During the hiatus of the Clark Sisters, Clark–Sheard rose to fame after she recorded her critically acclaimed and much anticipated solo album Finally Karen, which spawned her hit, "Balm in Gilead" (a re-recording of a song she originally recorded as part of the Clark Sisters back in the 1980s for their Heart & Soul album) the R&B-flavored "Just For Me" and "Nothing Without You" – a contemporary duet with R&B diva Faith Evans. Finally Karen became one of the most successful gospel albums of 1998 earning Sheard a Grammy nomination and earning her a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for "Best Female Vocalist"
After her debut album success and much touring, Clark–Sheard was hospitalized in 2001 after one of her blood vessels burst during a cosmetic procedure, resulting in doctors giving her a 2% chance of survival. Her testimony inspired the title name for her long-awaited sophomore project, 2nd Chance released in 2002. Clark–Sheard recorded two more live albums, including The Heavens Are Telling and It's Not Over (which featured some studio recordings), before releasing All in One, Clark–Sheard's first all-studio-recorded album in 13 years. The album debuted at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Chart and #98 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart, while its first single "Prayed Up" has so far peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard Gospel Songs chart.
Singers Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Faith Evans, SWV, Kameron Lacroix, Blu Cantrell, Lil' Mo, Missy Elliott, Kelly Price, Kanye West and Fantasia all count Karen Clark-Sheard as one of their vocal influences.
Last Updated: December 14, 2021