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The Caravans
The Caravans
During the period stretching from the late '50s to the mid-'60s, the Caravans went unrivaled as the nation's most popular touring gospel group; acclaimed as one of the greatest female acts ever to arrive on the spiritual music front, their fluctuating roster was unparalleled as a launching pad for future superstars -- Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews, Bessie Griffin and James Cleveland were just a few of the ensemble's alumni who later went on to solo fame. The Caravans were formed in Chicago in 1952 by contralto Albertina Walker and other onetime members of the Robert Anderson Singers, among them Ora Lee Hopkins, Elyse Yancey and Nellie Grace Daniels; virtually from the outset, their lineup shifted regularly, but in addition to longtime mainstay Walker, the recordings the group made for the States label between 1952 and 1956 include Griffin, Dorothy Norwood and Cassietta George, who enlisted in 1954. Also present was Cleveland, who not only accompanied the group on piano but also narrated hymns, his relaxed monologues a stark contrast to the fervent group vocals behind him.
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