By Deborah Evans Price
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - "Touring" carries a different meaning for singer Karen Clark-Sheard these days.
The gospel icon is on the road in the hit play "Church Girl" while promoting her fifth album, "All in One," which was released April 6. It marks Clark-Sheard's first solo project in four years and her first album on her own EMI Gospel-distributed label, Karew Records.
The urban-flavored "All in One" has spent two weeks at No. 3 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart. Its 11 tracks include the go-go-influenced lead single, "Prayed Up," which is No. 18 on Hot Gospel Songs. A video for the single is in the works.
In addition to Clark-Sheard doing press in markets on the play's circuit, the "All in One" CD is being sold at the theaters. Kicking off March 23 and running through May, the play's tour schedule includes Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
"All in One" is the second release on Karew Records following 2009's "A Clark Family Christmas." Clark-Sheard and her husband, Bishop J. Drew Sheard, launched the label with plans to sign and develop other artists.
"This is a dream that I've always wanted to do," Clark-Sheard says. "We've been in this business for so long and under other companies that I thought it was time to have my own label."
Later this year, Clark-Sheard will jump from the stage to the big screen when filming begins on an Aretha Franklin biopic. Clark-Sheard will play a singer in one of the groups Franklin was in before going solo.
"My mother (gospel pioneer Dr. Mattie Moss-Clark) and Aretha's father were friends," Clark-Sheard says. "So I count this as a great privilege."