martes, 14 de julio de 2009

Clara Ward: Soul & Inspiration (1969) ... plus

Widely acclaimed among the greatest soloists in gospel history, Clara Ward was also the subject of much criticism from purists. With her backing group the Ward Singers, she pushed gospel out of the church and into the nightclubs, infusing the music with a shot of glitz and glamour the likes of which had never before been seen. Decked out in colorful gowns, towering wigs and dazzling jewelry, the Wards sang only the biggest pop-gospel hits, flamboyantly delivered for maximum commercial appeal; while many observers decried their clownish onstage behavior as demeaning not only to the music but also to their African-American heritage, at their creative peak the group was a true phenomenon, combining superb soloists, exceptional material and innovative arrangements to leave an indelible mark on the generations of spiritual performers who followed. Though Clara Ward did not regularly sing secular music as a soloist or with her groups, she did sing backup for pop artists, most notably on Dee Dee Sharp's smash hit ‘Mashed Potato Time’, and provided vocals for Canned Heat's album New Age, on a ballad entitled ‘Looking for My Rainbow’. She also recorded a few secular albums during her career, including this one, Soul and Inspiration. Released in 1969 on Capitol Records, the album consisted of pop songs from Broadway plays and Hollywood movies and was produced by David Axelrod. With tunes such as ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’, ‘The Impossible Dream’, and ‘Born Free’, this easily could have been an inspirational sermon. But, surprisingly enough, there also can be found two strong soul songs in ‘Dead End Street’, about living in poverty with a little dream break, and ‘Feelin' Good’, that builds in intensity with a nice breakdown in the middle. This album was later reissued on the Capitol's budget Pickwick label minus one song. I included here as bonus tracks 10 of her best remembered songs and rarities (many with the Ward Singers) featuring the Northern Soul classic 'The Right Direction'., Thank you, Daniele, for sharing this rare album!

Clara Ward and the Ward singers raise the roof with this rendition of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. From left to right: Malvilyn Statham (tambourine), Vermettya Royster, Clara Ward (lead), Adele Schofield, and Geraldine Jones. Viola Crowley is on piano and Bernard Davis on the organ.

Another powerful performance of Clara and her singers:

6 comentarios:

Nosi dijo...

Trag dijo...

Wow, what a fantastic post. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

kareemah dijo...


I'm new here & I've been cheking different music blogs.All of them were fantastic but this is the first one I saw about soul!


Mark dijo...

THANK-YOu! Wounded Woman ande Clara Ward, outstanding!

Chris T dijo...

This is good stuff, many thanks.

onejazzyman dijo...

Clara Ward is one of the most underrated gospel singers of all time. This is classic Ms. Ward. Thanks for posting.