What started as a somber gospel event turned into a foot-stomping, Southern Baptist revival meeting.
The Clark Sisters shouted, danced and belted out some of their most familar tunes at the annual homecoming gospel concert in Lee Hall Auditorium Friday night.
The event, which was part of the Florida A&M Lyceum series, was hosted by Jacquell “the Apostle” Lawson, gospel director for WAMN-FM 90.5, and Nathan Cohen, an alumnus of FAMU’s gospel choir.
Performances by Musical Affirmation of Christ and Malcolm Hawkins set the tone for the night with their rousing voices filled with praise.
The crowd sang along with FAMU’s Gospel choir as it rang out hits like, “Jesus Can Work It Out” and “It’s Only a Test.”
“When that choir came out on stage, honey, it was all over for me. The good Lord showed up and out tonight. Them babies tore that song up,” said Shirley Mae Wilkerson, a retired nurse.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the headlining Clark Sisters. The Grammy award-winning quartet is the best-selling female vocal group in gospel history.
They were welcomed by a standing ovation and thunderous applause. The sisters opened their two-hour performance with their hit “Living,” then followed with “In Vain,” and “He Gave Me Nothing to Lose.”
Christina Akiens drove four hours from Orlando to hear them perform, and she felt it was worth every mile.
“The Clark Sisters have always been an inspiration to me. I wouldn’t miss them for the world,” said Akiens, a marketing student at the University of Central Florida.
Toward the end of the show, the sisters performed their signature hit “You Brought the Sunshine,” which caused fans to bombard the front of the stage and sing along with them.
As fans stood with them, the mood turned into a revival from days of old.
Many audience members cried as Karen Clark-Sheard shared her testimony of nearly dying from an undisclosed disease.
As the show came to a close, the sisters reminded the crowd to keep their faith in God.
When they strutted off stage, the crowd begged for more, which caused them to do an encore performance of “My mind is made up.” As they kicked off their shoes and started dancing to the beat of the crowd, Karen Clark-Sheard jumped on the drums and performed a solo, while Dorinda Clark-Cole began scatting like a young Ella Fitzgerald.
“The Clark Sisters were simply phenomenal at Friday’s concert,” said Michael Jefferson, a Lyceum Series committee member. “Lee Hall certainly felt like Sunday Morning service.”