Gospel Music’s The Mighty Clouds of Joy Are Still Making Mighty Moves 50+ Years Later
The Mighty Clouds of Joy Are Forever Lived, 50+ Years Later
For over fifty years, the legacy of premier Gospel quartet, The Mighty Clouds of Joy has been unwavering, thriving decade after decade. Creating a distinctive, traditional sound with a soulful twist, Mighty Clouds of Joy have molded an unforgettable lane that has stuck with us for generations and will stick with us for generations to come. Their gift is invariable, which happens to be one of the main reasons why we just can’t get enough of the Clouds, also known as the ‘Mighty High’.
Their musical emergence began in the mid-fifties with original members, Joe Ligon and Johnny Martin. The two were just young teens from the ‘City of Angels’, Los Angeles, California, aiming to turn their talents into triumphs. Forming the group with brothers, Ermant and Elmo Franklin, Leon Polk, and Richard Wallace, the then six-membered group made their Gospel debut in 1960 with their record, “Steal Away to Jesus”, vigorously making their way into the Gospel arena.
Their LP, Family Circle, further broadened their horizons, putting them on the map, and growing their reputation as ‘The Temptations of Gospel’. Leading off faith, with a bit of funky, their 1975 single “Mighty High” brought in even more fans and notability.
With their matching ensemble, smooth choreography, and meaningful lyrics, the Mighty Clouds of Joy set themselves apart from day one. From being the first Gospel group to appear on the Soul Train to having sold over seven million records and winning three Grammys, the Mighty Clouds of Joy’s influence is withstanding. The Clouds have even had the honor of working with secular legends, such as Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin.
Even through the group changes and replacement of members, they are still gracefully pushing forward. Though most may have thought that the legacy of the Clouds had been left behind, current members, Johnny Valentine, Ron Staples, Ervin Williams, Ronald Clark Sr., and Jeremih Blair are all keeping it alive in the mightiest way.
It’s all about fulfilling God’s purpose. “It’s an honor to carry such a legacy on with the group. You know, the status of Mighty Clouds of Joy, we’ve been here a while. Johnny’s been here for forty-two years. So, he’s seen a lot of stuff. I’ve been here twenty years; I’ve seen a lot of stuff. It’s a very exciting feeling to be able to carry on; it’s like a torch being passed to you and you’re able to carry that thing on and keep on putting out great music. The fans still accept you for who you are. It’s a great feeling, tremendously,” lead singer, Ron Staples, expressed.
Staples, along with the rest of the current members, were all handpicked by Mr. Joe Ligon himself. Since his entrance to the group, Staples’ only goal is to keep the fans satisfied, while continuing to deliver inspirational, authentic music.
“We never really thought about the fans changing on us because for the whole time that the Clouds been singing, they’ve been known as a traditional group,” Staples continued. “We’ve always kind of kept to our basis of traditional music. We have recorded other music before, but the traditional zone of music has been what has really kept the Clouds for all of these years. When it’s good music, it never dies. So, we’re able to still keep capitalizing on great music. I believe that’s what people love about the Clouds.”
Keeping to their religious roots, the group also manages to appeal to audiences of all ages. Bringing in bass, drums, and keyboards to their set, the Mighty Clouds of Joy generate a mystical musical mix like no other.
“They’re a group of producers. Like, everybody on the team can play multiple instruments,” manager, Tracy Bell boasts. “Johnny Valentine, who’s known for just the drums. That’s what he was polarized, as a drummer—one of the greatest quartet drummers. But, yet, he can jump on the organ keyboard; he can do whatever, at any given moment. He actually sings; he’s on the vocals now. He’s not even playing the drums, at this moment.”
Valentine, who’s been with the group over forty years, is definitely known as one of the veterans of the group. The highs, the lows, he’s been there for it all. However, Valentine still remains solid in what God has called him to do. He says their faith in what they believed in is what has kept the group alive for so long.
“We always had faith, in what we do and what we believe in. This is what we believed in,” Valentine explains. “We’ve never, ever thought about giving up. That’s why we’re still here today. It seems like the quartet music is getting overridden by other music. A lot of DJs, a lot of radio stations, don’t play quartet. So, that has a lot to do with the changes that are being made [in the Gospel industry]. Our thing is to try to keep up with a genre of music that is going on. Stay in the mix, you know?” Valentine assures.
Their music is timeless and their talent is consistent. You can’t help but respect that. The Mighty Clouds of Joy have released over twenty albums in total—studio, live, and compilations, with new and old members. Their newest projects include a new album, Rebirth and two new singles, “Who Touched Me?” and “Lord Help Us”.
The single, “Who Touched Me?” is a more personable song, offering a great uplifting melody, while “Lord Help Us” briefly touches on police brutality and other pressing topics affecting minorities.
“The song “Lord Help Us”, I actually said that line in the song,” Staples offers. “‘There’s so much police brutality. We can’t walk the streets in peace.’ It’s just a bad thing that black people can’t walk the streets in peace. We’re stereotyped for everything that we do. You can’t drive your car without being pulled over. It’s so much with that. But, we’re just hoping the song “Lord Help Us” can enlighten somebody to be a little different—to treat somebody different.”
Holding impeccable weight within the Gospel community—even to this day, The Mighty Clouds of Joy have had many amazing successes. Their latest success happens to be their newest album, Rebirth. The album was digitally released back on October 28th of this year and is available for digital download. However, the physical copy will be available in stores on December 16th.
“We’re able to go in the studio and collab with each other, and when we collab with each other, we come up with music. Music is universal. It doesn’t change.” Ronald Clark Sr. states with much joy.
The album, Rebirth, will debut on Asah Entertainment, INC and is available on all digital outlets. As for the Clouds, let’s just say, ‘God ain’t through with them yet’. Their upcoming tour, ‘The Mighty High’ is currently in the works for the coming months.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy are here to stay, commanding the Gospel industry, one note at a time.
Stay In the Know:
[LIKE] the official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lacloudsofjoy
[DOWNLOAD] Rebirth album
Kirk Franklin Interview – The Man. The Legend. The Message.
With Upcoming Doll, Singer Keyondra Lockett Continues To Pursue Dreams
Routinely Effective Gospel Singer, Fred Hammond Talks 30 Years Of Praise