Through years of ridicule and turmoil, member of the trailblazing gospel group The Clark Sisters, Dorinda Clark-Cole has indeed survived. With a voice of triumph, two outstanding producers, and a new record label, she’s fully prepared to tell her story through her fourth full length solo album, I Survived.
Q: Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, what was the hardest thing that you survived as a child?
I think the hardest thing that I survived as a child was trying to live a normal life; because of the church life we were surrounded by, it was like we could do no wrong. You had to act like you were saved even if you were not.
Q: At what moment did The Clark Sisters realize that they weren’t just singing in the church anymore but wanted their voices to touch the world?
It was when we got a call that they were playing our music in the night clubs and on secular radio stations. It made our career turn in a different direction; meaning that it opened up other avenues for media and the press. The church actually began to question this crossover.
Q: What was the hardest thing you had to survive collectively as members of the group?
The ridicule of the church when they called my mom in because she performed at the 1983 Grammy Awards with us. It was hard to see that and I never could understand it, even ’til this day.
Q: What would be your all time favorite Clark Sisters song?
A Praying Spirit.
Q: In the group’s prime, you all dealt with a lot of backlash from the church because of the sound of the music that The Clark Sisters produced. Did that discourage you all?
It did in a way, but on the other hand we knew what we stood for. The thing that we tell so many people is that, what the church did not know was that You Brought the Sunshine had been out 2 years prior to it crossing over. It got into the hands of a secular Radio Announcer and he kept playing the song. It caught on with every radio station. The rest is history.
Q: Did you expect to have influenced so many people as you all have at this moment? Artists across many genres list The Clark Sisters as vocal influences. Your survival, has helped others, such as legendary female Hip Hop artist Missy Elliott, to survive and overcome as well. How does it feel to hear that?
We had no idea that we would have such a great effect. But God knew what we needed to get us to where we are at this particular time.
I feel so blessed to know that great artists in the industry have looked up to our music for years. I can truly say that the Lord has allowed me to minister to each of them in a word or song. I’m honored and so humbled.
Q: The Clark Sisters’ music has been covered by everybody from Xscape to Al Green, Aaliyah and even Kim Burrell. What has been your favorite Clark Sister remake thus far? How do you feel when you hear these artists singing the songs you sung with your sisters?
My favorite Clark Sisters remake is Angels.
It makes me feel so good. I never will forget when I saw Chaka Khan on TBN singing I’m Still Here. That was an awesome delight.
Q: In the past, you have openly discussed surviving a near death experience at the age of 2 and battling with suicide attempts. As you look back now, what do you think kept you and brought you to this point? Would you change anything that occurred? What would you say to encourage those who are at the verge of suicide?
I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is what kept me. My faith is what holds me. My endurance is what motivated me. My ministry is what builds me. The Word is what keeps me sane, secure, and whole. I hold on to what I know and what I believe that keeps me stable.
I would say make sure you have praying people around you to help you to stay prayerful and maintain.
Q: In 2010, your home in Southfield, Michigan caught aflame? How did you and your family overcome that?
I was out of town doing my Radio show when I got a call from my husband that the house caught on fire. I was thinking the worst. But when I spoke to my sister Jacky, she said the kids are out but your house is not looking good. I began to thank God that my kids made it out. It took a year for me to get back into my house. I found myself singing the song,Take back everything the devil stole. I thought about it, everything that I lost, I got it all back and more.
Q: After hearing of all that you’ve encountered, it’s almost obvious what this album is inspired by. In your own words, what would you say this album means?
This is going to be an album of testimony and restoration. I intend for this to convey, to those listening, as a revival of survival.
Q: How did you get connected with Light Records? Who helped write and produce this album? Where and when was it recorded?
I got connected with Light Records because of the divine connection of great friends and peers. My label mate Ricky Dillard, called me and said, “’Rinda. Light’s trying to get in touch with you.”
Of course, when you think or hear of Light, you think of Mr. James Robinson. He called me and talked to me about “Light” and the rest is what is becoming history. I’m loving my journey with Light Records and the Staff.
First of all, let me say that in recording this album God allowed me to work with 2 of the most influential producers around; Asaph A. Ward, did my Live portion and Warryn Campbell, did my Studio portion. So that is why I feel that this is another level for Dorinda.
Q: How do you balance being an artist, a minister, a wife, a sister, an aunt, and a mother?
I’ve learned that I couldn’t do what I do if it wasn’t for all those wonderful people that keep my world in order. I balance with the help of every person that helps me in those roles.
Q: At the end of the day, what do you want listeners to know about Dorinda Clark-Cole’s journey?
Every day I wake up, I always want my listeners, fans, and well wishers to know that what keeps me going even when it gets rough is that prayer and devotion time. That’s what I last off of. I have to have it to function in today’s society.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Purchase I Survived via iTunes: http://bit.ly/DorindaSurvived/.
To keep up with “The Rose of Gospel” Dorinda Clark-Cole visit: http://www.dorindaclarkcole.net/.