by Clint Yeatts
Since the late 1950's they have been a pioneer in Gospel music. A group of guys who had met in Los Angeles shared a dream to be singers. They saw Gospel music and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, as their ticket to stardom.
Richard Wallace, who now lives in Tyler, moved from Austin to L.A. in the 50's. He remembers those early days when the career was more important than the message.
"I lived, I call it a sinful life," remembers original member Richard Wallace. "Singing for God on the stage but not living for Him after I left the stage. Although I was in the church I was not living saved, but then God saved me. What I mean be that he gave me his Holy Ghost, the peace within to know that He is the reason I even exist."
Wallace believes God had a purpose in bringing together the Might Clouds of Joy. The Mighty Clouds began with traditional Gospel...but quickly began a more contemporary sound. Changes that were not that popular at the time.
"The Mighty Clouds and the Staple Singers," says Wallace, "started what you call rock gospel. There was not a name for it. Being the number one traditional gospel quartet people got really upset about it. So they started writing letters and letting us know, you've forsaken Gospel music. We went on Soul Train and Don Cornelius walked up to our lead singer and just stuck the mic in his mouth and said what's this I've heard about you guys going funky? So the lead singer...we haven't gone funky..."
What the Mighty Clouds did was blaze a trail for other contemporary artists. They also set about a change in the way many churches held worship service.
From Madison Square Garden, to Radio City Music Hall, to the Whitehouse...Wallace says he believes God has used the Mighty Clouds of Joy. A far cry from what was on the mind of a young group of guys 45 years ago, who just wanted a make music.