Atlanta greets a gospel explosion

Three spiritual music events highlight weekend

"You'll hear a little bit of preachin', praise and testimony too," says Elbernita Clark, known as "Twinkie," the middle sister of the four-sister group.

Folks are usually on their feet during the entire show, she adds.

The show is one of three gospel events in metro Atlanta this weekend. Concerts are also being held at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center and Stone Mountain Park.

Not so long ago – before the genre went mainstream – gospel was mostly heard at church service and on Sunday morning radio.

"Gospel didn't always get the recognition that it deserves," says Clark, 53. "Singers like Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell and The Winans helped take gospel to a whole new level."

Also in today's stress-filled world, more people turn to gospel music for a dose of inspiration, she says.

The Grammy Award-winning Clark Sisters are pioneers in contemporary gospel and have been performing professionally since 1973. One of their most popular hits is the song, "Is My Living in Vain."

Although each has recorded successful solo albums, they continue to reunite on stage.

"We're more effective together," Clark says. "We feel a tightness and chemistry that God has given us when we are together as a family."

The Clark Sisters Concert

7 p.m. Saturday night at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. $45-$100. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800, 404-249-6400, www.cobbenergycentre.com.

MORE GOSPEL MUSIC

• THE FIRST ANNUAL ATLANTA GOSPEL FESTIVAL features Lee Williams, Dottie Peoples, the Canton Spirituals, Jackson Southernairs, Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson and Doc Mckenzie. 5 p.m. June 15. $31.50-$43.50. Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-658-7159, 404-817-8700, www.atlantaciviccenter.com.

• THE 4TH ANNUAL STONE MOUNTAIN PARK GOSPEL CELEBRATION showcases Sean Simmonds, Damita Haddon, The Anointed Pace Sisters and church choirs. On Memorial lawn. Blankets and lawn chairs are permitted. No pets, grills, glass containers or alcohol. Noon-8:30 p.m. June 14. Included with park admission: $25; $22 senior citizens and military; $20 ages 3-11. $8 parking. Stone Mountain Park, U.S. 78 East, Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690, www.stonemountainpark.com/gospel.

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