Karen Clark Sheard (born Karen Valencia Clark) is an American gospel singer, member of seminal group The Clark Sisters, and mother of contemporary gospel singer Kierra "Kiki" Sheard.
Karen Clark Sheard was born the youngest of six children born to Pastor Elbert Clark and Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, a pioneering gospel choral director. Clark-Sheard is best known for being a member of iconic gospel group The Clark Sisters.
Karen's involvement in the Island Inspirational All Stars' "Don't Give Up" in 1996 (along with Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker, and Kirk Franklin) led to her signing with Island Records. Her solo career began with the release of her debut album Finally Karen in 1997. The album, consisting of half studio recordings and half live recordings, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 1998. The set did however win the Lady Of Soul award for Best Gospel Album the same year.
After Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark-Sheard became the 2nd gospel artist to sign to Elektra Records. She released her Elektra debut album 2nd Chance in 2002 led off by the single "Be Sure". Though Clark-Sheard was in excellent form vocally, the slick, progressive sound of the disc was not received well. The 2003 followup The Heavens Are Telling fared well, but came at an awkward time when Elektra Records was being dissolved into Atlantic Records. In 2005, after a bidding war with several labels, Karen Clark Sheard finally signed with Word Records and issued It's Not Over, the following year.
Singers Mariah Carey, Faith Evans and Beyoncé all count Karen Clark-Sheard as one of their greatest vocal influences.
On June 16, 1984, Karen Clark-Sheard wed John Drew Sheard, a minister. Her husband is senior pastor of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ in Detroit. Together they have 2 children: Kierra, who is also a gospel recording artist, and John Drew Sheard II, a young musician and up-and-coming producer.
In 2001, Clark-Sheard was faced with a life-threatening crisis when a blood vessel burst during a scheduled hernia surgery. Her doctors only gave her a 2% chance of survival due to her complications. After the blood clot was surgically removed, Clark-Sheard fell into a coma. The coma lasted three and a half weeks, but Clark-Sheard made a miraculous recovery and recorded her sophomore album, 2nd Chance (named so because of the "second chance" given to her by God) , in 2002. Clark-Sheard's near-death experience is referenced in her daughter Kierra's song "You Don't Know".
* 1st Soprano
* Eb6 in "Name it and Claim it" (Gospel, motion picture, 1982) and "Livin'" ("You Showed Me" was a C6 natural)
* G3 in "So Good" and "Its Not Over" (version from album of same title) .