“You brought the sunshine in my life.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s ever been a Good Friday revival service at the Brooklyn Academy of Music led by the greatest-selling gospel group of all time, wearing head-to-toe Pleats Please Issey Miyake. Well, we can now officially input that in the history book. This past Friday night, Good Friday, as part of Solange x Saint Heron’s curated music series, Eldorado Ballroom, the trailblazing group affectionately known as the Clark Sisters took to the stage to do what they do best — minister through the blend of their signature sisterly harmonies. “It’s a blend of harmony and joy being related to one another,” the legendary Twinkie Clark shares with ESSENCE about the group’s recognizable sound. “There’s a sound that comes with us from singing as sisters. That’s a special blend that comes from us.” The result; a night of devotion, anointing, communion, joy, and black divinity.
Solange has long been a connector, purveyor, and archivist of Black art both in her performance practice and through the work of her collective Saint Heron. Solange explored the experimental and transcendent principles of performance through the decades for this multi-event series. From R&B (Kelela, Res, KeiyaA), Jazz, the poetry of movement, performance art, and devotion, each activation celebrates the dynamics of sonics across genres.
What better way to celebrate the cross-generational impact of devotional music than on one of the holiest weekends? The night took the audience through gospel music’s history and sonic diversity, starting with a soul-stirring performance by saxophonist Angélla Christie, representing the modern integration of jazz into the art form. Then, after a quick stage reset, we went on a journey through spiritual/devotional choral sounds celebrating the work of the late jazz legend Mary Lou Williams. The New York Philharmonic’s choral director Malcolm J. Merriweather led a choir (also wearing Pleats Please and Homme Plisse) through the spiritual choral compositions and concert acclaimed pianist Artina McCain tackled Williams’ piano works.
“The Glory to Glory performance is a special and important element to the Eldorado Ballroom experience as a whole,” Solange tells ESSENCE. “When curating the series, we were very intentional about the details of each performance. Everything, down to the timing of Good Friday, lent itself to the celebration of devotional and uplifting praise. With the help of Twinkie Clark and The Clark Sisters, this evening felt like going home to church – for so many people, this was a homecoming in a sense.” And that it did. The audience, which included fashionable faces like Telfar, Raul Lopez, and Steve Lacey, clapped and danced as the spirit of praise and worship took over the Beaux Arts-style opera house.
As mentioned, the sisters, styled by Solange herself, performed a selection of their greatest hits (“Is My Living In Vein,” “Jesus Is A Love Song,” etc.) wearing black pleated ensembles courtesy of Issey Miyake. The sisters are no strangers to the impact of fashion. For their 1981 eighth studio album, You Brought the Sunshine, the cover features the sisters in pastel, pleated chiffon gowns. This ensemble dressing set the standard for girl groups in the future. And much like Destiny’s Child, a group heavily influenced by the Clark Sisters, with Ms. Tina spearheading the costume design for the group, decades earlier, their [Clark Sisters] mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, styled the group. Speaking on the wardrobing of the group, Twinkie shares that their mother was the one with the vision; “Our mom did all the shopping for us. She had certain boutiques that she took us to, and every now and then, she would have a designer make our uniform.”
“It [performing] actually inspires us and encourages us after 55 years of being in the music industry and ministry. It’s encouraging to know that people are being uplifted and blessed. So after doing it for so long, you would think that we’d be tired of it. But each time we performed and ministered to people, and see that they’re being blessed and feel delivered and uplifted. It makes you want to keep on spite of all the sacrifice that it takes to sing and perform.” — Twinkie Clark
After a holy weekend of resurrection, revival, and renewal, and as we observe Easter Monday today, Twinkie left us with this inspirational message; “I believe that healing and restoration are going to come to people that are not in the church, and that don’t have Christ in their lives. I believe that we’re going to see things happening that we’ve never seen before. In this hour, in this time, and this year.”
For information on BAM and the Eldorado Ballroom series, visit here.