One of the most influential black gospel singers outside of Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward filled her amazing vocal solos with soaring, melismatic power. Clara and her group, the Ward Singers, sought not only to please those in the gospel circuit, but also to find a wider pop audience for gospel music. Garish costumes, jewelry and wigs were all commonplace at a Ward Singers show. The group was also one of the first gospel acts to perform in a Las Vegas lounge -- they even performed at Disneyland, once. Although these actions may not have endeared them to gospel purists, their music -- and especially Clara Ward's voice -- has endured.