How Is The Relationship Between The Clark Sisters and Their Estranged Sister Denise Clark Bradford Today?

The Clark Sisters have a new generation of fans after their record-breaking biopic on Lifetime. The group has been making chart-topping gospel music for over five decades and the film showed their humble beginnings to gospel and crossover success. Another major theme in the film was the family’s internal relationships, most notably among each other. 

The Clark Sister
The Clark Sisters 2018 | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BET

They were raised to stay together but the sisters often had tension due to Denise Clark (now Denise Clark-Bradford) going against their mother’s strict and religious rules. They eventually became estranged and unfortunately, their relationship with Denise remains distant today.

The Clark Sisters and Denis Clark Bradford’s relationship depicted in the Lifetime biopic

Denise grew up singing with her sisters. Trained by their mother, the group toured churches and taught other choirs how to properly harmonize before they made it big in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. 

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She was viewed as the rebellious sister, breaking their mother’s rules of no dating. She became an unwed mother early on in the sisters’ success, which left them disappointed and their mother fearful of the church’s rejection, but she continued to perform with the group.

The film shows the close relationship between Denise and her sister Twinkie. She had two more children of wedlock and often felt not only ostracized by her siblings and her mother, but she felt imprisoned and confined to her mother’s high expectations.

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A post shared by Dr. Denise Clark- Bradford (@officialdeniseclarkbradford) on

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In the film, the group is presented a lucrative record deal. She turned down the opportunity to sign and left the group for good in the late 80s. She remained estranged from her sisters, only reconnecting with them at their mother’s funeral in 1994, which resulted in a huge argument between the sisters.

Denise Clark’s niece, Keirra Sheard, says the relationship between The Clark Sister and Denis remains estranged

The movie hinted that Denise and the rest of her sisters remained estranged following the blowup at their mother’s funeral. After she left the group, the sisters continued as a foursome before branching out into their own successful solo careers.

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They reunited in 2007 for a live reunion album but Denise did not join them. Sheard, who starred as her mother Karen Clark-Sheard in the film, interviewed with Shadow and Act and revealed that not much has changed between Denise’s relationship with the rest of the sisters.

“We’ve tried reaching out to my aunt,” Sheard said. “[It’s] not been the smoothest event or experience. But she’s super vibrant.”

It appears that the first time Sheard ever spoke to her aunt was when she spoke to her to get her input for the film. She noted that she was excited to speak to her aunt because she’d heard many great stories about her over the years from her mom.

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“When I talked her to her the first time, it was super fun,” she gushed. “She has often said that I remind her a lot of my aunt…because I’m talkative, I like to be informed, I like to read and she says I’m well-spoken…but [the] relationship [with Denise] is distant, I’ll say that, but we connected with her children.”

Denise’s sons have spoken out about what was true versus what was false in the film and clarified a few things regarding where their mother stands with her sisters. In one YouTube video, her son admitted that she’d been turned away from visiting her sisters when they were ill and hospitalized, so she opts to keep her distance. 

Denise is now a minister of music and lives with her husband in California, where she is also pursuing a doctorate degree.