Clara Ward (1924-1973) began her musical career by singing with her mother, Gertrude Murphy Ward, and her sister, Willarene. The family musical group referred to themselves as the Ward Singers and started out performing in churches throughout the 1940’s. Although they started out as a traditional gospel group, the Ward Singers changed their name to the Clara Ward Singers in the 1950’s and began to appeal to a more secular audience. The group began to play at more popular music venues and also started to wear brightly colored and flashy costumes. This transition to a more popular form of music made the Clara Ward Singers one of the most influential gospel groups of the 1950’s and 1960’s.