« Review - Chanticleer opens 30th season in new S.F. venue | Main | UK a cappella newsgroup launches this week »

September 17, 2007

Spirit of Wings Over Jordan choir to be celebrated

Cleveland Plain Dealer (IN):

America heard a "Cleveland sound" long before Eric Carmen rocked with the Raspberries, even before Frankie Yankovic struck polka gold. The distinct voices emerged in the days before television, when families sat around the radio together on Sundays, and CBS aired the "Negro Hour" from the Cleveland studios of WGAR.

For nearly a decade, America listened to the Wings Over Jordan Choir, the first black singing group with a national radio audience. A Baptist minister launched the choir in 1935 from Cleveland's Gethsemane Baptist Church, hoping to spread Christianity through Negro spirituals. The Rev. Glenn Settle spread a sound still considered a marvel.

The choir sang a cappella, arranging traditional spirituals and original works without instrumentation. "It was a very beautiful sound, in the era of the Great Depression, and then the war. People wanted something they could feel good about, and the Wings came on every Sunday," said Regennia Williams, a historian at Cleveland State University.

Before CBS ended the national broadcasts in 1947, the choir performed before mixed-race audiences in more than 40 states, as well as in Canada, Mexico and Europe. A pair of upcoming events will celebrate the choir and recall a sound that lent Cleveland renown as a center of sacred music.

The Ecumenical Disciples Choir, which honors the artistry of Wings and sings several of its original works, will present its ninth anniversary concert at 5 p.m. next Sunday at the Church of the Savior United Methodist Church, 2537 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. For more information, call choir director Gerald Harris at 440-232-9015.

Posted by acapnews at September 17, 2007 10:32 PM


I am living in South Africa and have been looking for CD's with the original Negro Spirituals. Unfortunatly all I could find were jazzified versions.

Could somebody please, tell me where I can find a good recording that resembles the original voices.

Thank you
Jan Breet

Posted by: Jan Breet at September 27, 2007 2:29 AM

I grew up listing to Wings Over Jordan every Sunday over the Radio. Often, I have wondered where I may find and buy their Music. Howard University featured Avery Brooks on Kofi's show and Avery Brooks mentioned his father sang with the choir, a very deep Baritone voice. I thought, "What a coincidence," My thinking of the choir and they were mentioned! Where or how do I purchase their Music? I turn 76 Mar 24, 08.

Posted by: James C. Higginbotham Jr. at March 30, 2008 8:02 PM

I also have been trying for years to purchase their music. Please let me know where to purchase "original" soundtracks. My aunt is in the photograph shown above(fourth left from back) her twin sister, my mom, 87 years old would be forever grateful.

Posted by: Linda McIntyre at April 3, 2008 8:30 PM

You can go to our website, www.gospelmusic.com, and purchase one or both of the CDs we have just re-released. These are original recordings made on the King Records label, that have been remastered and rereleased.

Posted by: Amy Brakefield at May 9, 2008 9:17 AM

I am 53 years old and I remember the Wings Over Jordan Choir played on LP in my home. Today I listen to the wonderful sound of the Choir on CD in my car on my way to work.

Posted by: Kay at March 24, 2009 7:31 PM

I am 53 years old and I remember the Wings Over Jordan Choir played on LP in my home. Today I listen to the wonderful sound of the Choir on CD in my car on my way to work.

Posted by: Kay at March 24, 2009 7:32 PM

Today I found the LP "AMEN" recorded by this wonderful group. It has comments on the album cover by Rev. Settle about each selection. I'll find the CD online & purchase all that is offered. Acappella singing is very special and there is no other group in the world that can compare to Wings Over Jordan group.

Posted by: Bob Pendergrass at August 1, 2009 7:10 PM

My aunt may have been a member of this Choir. She is 97 years old and is suffering from Alzheimers. Her church would like to have a special celebration for her and is asking our family to substantiate her membership with The Choir. This we cannot do since we only have some vague remebrances of our mother mentioning that our Aunt sang with The Choir.

Can you help? My Aunts name is Mable Allen. She lived in Chicago and Cleveland from 1940
until around 1975.

We would appreciate whatever information or
direction you can provide us with.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Bob Shumate.

Posted by: Bob Shumate at October 19, 2009 10:38 AM

I was talking with my mother, she said that my great uncle was a member of "Wings on Jordan" could this be true? His name is Louis or Lewis Scott.

Posted by: Ava Moore at July 19, 2010 3:00 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?