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Women’s History Month

All-Star #23: Clara Ward

Women’s History Month

All-Star #23: Clara Ward

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.

23

Clara Ward

Gospel singer / songwriter

Clara Ward

Gospel singer / songwriter

1924-1973

Considered one of the greatest soloists in gospel history, Clara Ward and her Famous Ward Singers—a group started by her mother, Gertrude—toured their signature rollicking gospel sound around the country, in churches, arenas and even, quite controversially, nightclubs. Ward became the group’s musical arranger at the height of their success, including when they toured with the Rev. C.L. Franklin, whose daughter—Aretha—considered Ward a mentor.

Ward, who went on to lead the Clara Ward Singers, featured in the Hollywood movie A Time to Sing, with Hank Williams Jr., and was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Was a founding member, and musical arranger, of the Ward gospel singers
  • Has a 32 cent U.S. Postal Service stamp with her image on it
  • Influenced Aretha Franklin
  • Performed twice before President Lyndon Johnson
  • Played at Carnegie Hall with Mahalia Jackson
  • Directed the music for a Broadway play


FINAL WORDS:
In her 1973 obituary, Ward was quoted as having said: “I really kind of think, as far as my personal life is concerned, I got it made.”


VIDEO CONTENT

 

RELATED: Despite the resistance Marian Anderson faced in venues across the country, she became one of the city’s most successful performers.

RELATED: Philadelphia-born actress and singer Pearl Bailey was a Tony-winning Broadway star whose boisterous stage presence captivated a nation.

Photo by Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

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