Thursday, November 26, 2009

Frances Steadman (1915-2009):Member of the Mary Johnson Davis Gospel Singers, The Clara Ward Specials, The Clara Ward Singers and The Stars of Faith

Today, the blog received word from both Shane Steward-Cowan and former member of the Clara Ward Singers and The Stars of Faith, Rev. "Lady" Esther Ford, that Frances Steadman of the Mary Johnson Davis Gospel Singers, The Clara Ward Specials, The Clara Ward Singers and later The Stars of Faith has passed. Steadman died early this Thanksgiving morning at the age of 94. Steadman began her recording career in 1949 with the Mary Johnson Davis Gospel Singers. In 1950, Steadman became a member of The Clara Ward Specials and was recording with the Clara Ward Singers by 1952. In August 1958, Steadman left the Clara Ward Singers along with Marion Williams, Henrietta Waddy, Kitty Parham, and Esther Ford to form The Stars of Faith. Steadman's daughter, Sadie Frances Keys joined the group during the 1960s. Steadman remained with The Stars of Faith into the 1990s and in 2003 at the age of 88, married a past sweetheart and moved to Baltimore. The viewing and funeral will be on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at Howell Funeral Home on Liberty Heights Avenue in Baltimore. The viewing time will be from 11am-6pm, and the funeral will begin at 6pm. For more information, contact Howell Funeral Home. See this link for contact info: Howell Funeral Home

Bob Marovich will pay tribute to Steadman during his "Gospel Memories" program on Chicago's WLUW 88.7 FM on December 5, 2009 from 10-11am CST. See for info on how to listen live via the Internet if you're not in Chicago, and for how to obtain the Podcast in the days following the original broadcast should you miss it. In the meanwhile, check out these YouTube videos featuring Frances Steadman.

Frances Steadman sharing a lead on "Our God Is Able" with the Mary Johnson Davis Gospel Singers in 1950

Frances Steadman leading "Sealed Til The Day of Redemption" with The Clara Ward Specials , circa 1951.

Frances Steadman leading "Climbing Jacob's Ladder" with The Clara Ward Singers in 1956

Frances Steadman singing "My Lord and I" with The Stars of Faith during the mid 1960s.

Frances Steadman singing "Climbing Jacob's Ladder" during a concert in 1996.

A portion of a 1990 interview with Steadman by Linwood Heath.


  1. Sad news and weird co├»ncidence… Even though i am not a religious person or a real gospel fan, for the last week, i spent hours trying to find a CD or digital version of the superb "Gospel Songs" 1964 album by the Stars of Faith, with Frances Steadman as a lead singer, which my parents had in my youth… It has one of the best ever versions of "Amazing Grace" i know, and a memorable one of "Deep River", among others.

    There must have been something floating in the air. :-(

    Anyway, if you don't know that album and stumble upon it, check it out, it is hugely moving, with only a piano (not an organ) adding to the purity of voices.

  2. P.S. Here are the cover and reference for the album :
    label : guilde du disque SVS 2614
    cover :


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