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Clara Ward

Date of Birth:
April 21, 1924

Date of Death:
January 16, 1973

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Clara Ward 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" , "How I Got Over" , and "Packin' Up".

Ward ranks among the greatest of gospel singers; only Mahalia Jackson is more exalted. Her beautiful alto 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.

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