Posted by themusicsover on August 24, 2012
December 13, 1920 – August 12, 2012
Willa Ward was a singer who was part of one of the most influential gospel groups of all time, the Ward Singers. Formed in the early ’40s, the group, which initially included Ward’s mother, Gertrude Ward and sister, Clara Ward, became the world’s first, and at the time, biggest crossover spiritual groups. The Ward Singers released over 80 records during what is considered the golden age of gospel, the mid ’40s to late ’50s. Songs like “How I Got Over You” (one of gospel’s first million sellers) and “Surely God Is Able,” and lively concerts helped them pack arenas and large theaters around the United States. They are said to have directly influenced Aretha Franklin and Little Richard. In the late ’50s, Ward left the group to sing pop music. Over the course of her career, she sang back up for the likes of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Patti LaBelle, and Chubby Checker. Willa Ward was 91 when she passed away on August 12, 2012.
Thanks to Henk de Bruin for the assist.