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Clara Ward - Short History

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Uploaded on Nov 4, 2008

Clara Ward (April 21, 1924 - January 16, 1973)[1] was a gospel artist who achieved great success, both artistic and commercial, in the 1940s and 1950s as leader of The Famous Ward Singers. A gifted singer and arranger, Ward took the lead-switching style used by male gospel quartets to new heights, leaving room for spontaneous improvisation and vamping by each member of the group while giving virtuouso singers such as Marion Williams the opportunity to step forward in songs such as "Surely, God Is Able" (the first million-selling gospel hit), "How I Got Over" (which Clara wrote, one of the most famous songs in the Black gospel repertoire), and "Packin' Up".

Clara Ward ranks among the greatest of gospel singers; only Mahalia Jackson is more exalted. Her beautiful alto (with a somewhat nasal tone) in gospel songs and the Methodist hymns of the eighteenth century continues to delight music lovers. She had a marked influence on later singers, such as her protegee Aretha Franklin, who adopted her moan for secular songs and who saluted Ward in Amazing Grace, the gospel album she made with James Cleveland in the early 1970s.


Clara Ward died in 1973 at the age of 48.
Aretha Franklin and Rev. C. L. Franklin sang at Clara Ward's funeral in Philadelphia in 1973; Marion Williams sang at Clara's second memorial service held days later in Los Angeles, California.


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