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Clara Ward
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    (April 21, 1924-January 16, 1973)
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Clara Mae Ward
    Gospel singer, pianist, and arranger
    Lead for The Ward Trio (later the Famous Ward Singers)
    Albums included 'Meetin' Tonight,' 'I Feel the Holy Spirit,' 'That Old Landmark,' 'Somebody Bigger Than You & I,' and 'Hallelujah'
    Recorded 'Dead End Street,' 'When the Gates Swing Open,' 'Smile,' 'How I Got Over,' 'Didn't It Rain,' 'Beams of Heaven,' 'Time is Winding Up,' 'Come in the Room,' 'Somewhere,' 'Peace in The Valley,' and 'We'll Soon Be Done With Trouble & Trials'
    Her name is shared with an American socialite who married a Belgian prince (the Princesse de Caraman-Chimay).
    Her mom forced her into show business.
    She eloped to spite her mother at the age of seventeen (but the marriage lasted only one year).
    At 21, she had replaced her mother as the lead singer for their traveling choir.
    She and her mother milked their group singers dry by charging them rent to sleep in their house (who were getting meager wages per gig as it was).
    She had several lesbian excursions behind closed doors.
    The closest she came to a lasting relationship was her longtime fling with the Reverend C.L. Franklin (Aretha's dad), who toured with the Ward Singers frequently.
    She angered Gospel enthusiasts by exporting the genre to the nightclub venue, complete with exotic wigs and glamourous sequin gowns.
    Her spiritual and vocal mentor was Mahalia Jackson.
    She was sexually abused by a cousin, as a child.
    She experienced a miscarriage months after eloping (her marriage suffered as a result).
    She created a booking agency for gospel acts.
    She established a publishing house for gospel musicians.
    She made several U.S.O entertainment tours in Vietnam.
    She was criticized for singing in nightclubs, but she also turned down multiple record deals to perform R&B/Jazz/Rock (when many Gospel singers were defecting to the aforementioned mediums to sell records).
    She pioneered the lead vocal-switching style (one of the first to do so with a female singing group).
    She collaborated with Langston Hughes, singing in (and directing) his Broadway play, 'Tambourines to Glory.'
    She was a huge influence on Aretha Franklin's vocal stylings, in addition to being a close personal friend (Aretha sang at her funeral service).
    She was honored posthumously by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in New York (1977).
    Her sister later attested to their mother being a controlling and emotionally abusive parent, one who exploited Clara for her voice at an early age.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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