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VOICE of Nashville and Svendborg Rocks
is proud to present to you

James Clark

…as reflected upon by Brenda Nielsen
Down From Glory

James ClarkThe Great Depression ended, the World’s largest office building – the Pentagon was dedicated and in South Texas in the small town of Mission arrived James Monroe Clark.   Claude and Velma Clark’s bundle of joy arrived on May 5, 1943.  Kate Smith was singing “When it’s Springtime in the Rockies” and Frank Sinatra was crooning his way to fame and fortune but little did Claude and Velma know that James career path Young James Clarkwould lead to music.  James was the youngest of four - Rev. Clyde Clark, Naomi Worcester, and Delores Doyle.  James grew up in a very strict Church of God environment and did his teething on church hymnals.  When James was eight years old his father was killed in an oil field accident.  His family then moved to the Houston area where his musical talents really blossomed.

When James was a toddler, he showed an interest in music.  His sister, Naomi, was studying classical music at the time and during her piano lessons he would hide in an adjoining room and wait for her to finish her lesson.  Then he would sit down at the piano and play everything he heard, note for note.  This really frustrated Naomi but how could she be upset with her baby brother.  She used to tell me that it was not fair, she practiced and practiced and still didn’t get it right …but little did we know at that time that James was given a God given talent.  A gift that truly has thrilled James Clarkaudiences all over the world.   At the ripe old age of ten, he became the Church of God pianist. At the age of 12, he was playing on live radio in Houston and by 13, he released his first hit record “Chantilly Lace with the Big Bopper”.  His mother didn’t much approve of his secular music and was reining him back into Southern Gospel music.  This began a career lined with some of the biggest names in Southern Gospel music:  Klaudt Indian Family, Kingsmen Quartet, Inspirationals Quartet, Harmoneers Quartet, and the Weatherford Quartet, the Love Revival Singers and the Blackwood Brothers.

I met James in California, I was manager of Sacred Artists Productions and one of the many music groups I booked, was the Weatherford Quartet.  So it was at this time James Clarkthat James entered little SherRee’ and my life.  He was the big Tall Texan and I can remember that he purchased SherRee’ a little riding horse.  She could barely walk but boy could she ride that little horse.  We married in late 1967 and James became the father figure in little SherRee’ life.  James left the Weatherford’s and joined the Calvary Baptist Church in Bellflower CA staff, as Minister of Music.  He also taught music and started back into the recording industry.  He was in such demand, that he had to leave the church and go into the recording industry on a full-time basis.  He worked under two union cards:  one for Hollywood and one for Nashville.  During this time, he played on sound tracks for the Bonanza TV show, movie sound tracks for Elvis Presley, Glenn Campbell and other well known stars.  He performed live at the Hollywood Palace with stars like Bob Hope and others.  He worked with many of the country artists like Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Buck Owens, Roy Clark and others.  During the 1970’s, I was working for James Clarkthe Government and was transferred from CA to PA to TX.  From TX, we moved to OK where James was a Studio Musician for Benson Sounds in Oklahoma City.  During this time, Benson Sound was one of the largest and busiest Gospel recording studios on the map.  He enjoyed getting back to his roots.  Not only did he write and arrange but we both did backup vocals on a lot of the sessions.  We then moved to Davenport IA where James enrolled in Palmer Brenda NielsenChiropractor College.  He missed the world of music, so he went back into live bands and in 1976, James and I joined the Weatherford Quartet, which moved us back to OK.  Feeling led into the ministry, we left the Weatherfords and formed the Love Revival Singers.  This decision moved us to PA and then back to TX.  James Clark and the Love Revival Singers joined the staff of the Calvary Assembly of God Church in Pasadena TX, where James was Associate Pastor. 

When you think of outstanding great pianist, your mind immediately goes to names like:  Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liberace, Floyd Cramer and in the Southern Gospel arena Roger Bennett, Jackie Marshall and Anthony Burger.  But I would have to rank James Clark (aka JC, the Big Texan) right up there with the best of the best. Each pianist offers a unique style, delivery, set of emotions and pleasure.  James was one of the few that could make his audience cry and have shivers running up and down their spine and excite them with his inhuman technical virtuosity.  James was definitely a prodigy that could play any genre of music and play it well.  He could pattern the “slip note” technic of Floyd Cramer, or delight us with the boogie-woogie styling’s that carries the jaunty rhythmic bass line in his left hand while adding the melodic riff in his James Clarkright hand between bouts of patter with his audience.  So whether playing a classical number or just a down to earth SherRee' Nielsenfour-note gospel song, he excelled at the job and captured the love of his audience.

He left TX in 1982 headed back to IL, where he performed with several different bands.  One of those being the Sweetwater Band.  After a few years in the secular world, he yearned to return to his gospel roots and moved back to TX where he joined Mark Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers.  During this time, he stayed in constant contact with SherRee’, up until her tragic death.  James and SherRee’ had a special bond and their love for each other was endless.

James spent his final years traveling and performing in concerts.  When he wasn’t on the road, he taught piano, orchestration and arranging.  He operated a state-of-the-art recording studio in the Houston area where he wrote arrangements, and did recordings for other artists.

We have selected one of my favorite piano numbers that James released entitled “Down From His Glory”.  On this number you will witness what a superb artist he was, hear the sensational sounds of his delivery and feel God’s anointing on his talent.James Clark 

James left us way too early.  His beautiful companion and the love of his life, Sheri Menning was at his side as he crossed over Jordan.   James Monroe Clark  (May 5, 1943 – April 16, 2014).  James last thoughts were “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”.

Yes, James, you finished your course and did an outstanding job.  You gave us over 60 years of enjoyment…you were the best.  You were a musician, a producer, a performer, a composer, a teacher, but most of all, you were a child of God. 

You can read more about James at his web site http://jcpianoman.com  and make sure you order some of his priceless CD’s.  


   

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