20 Facts About Marion Williams


Marion Williams was born in Miami, Florida, to a religiously devout mother and musically inclined father.


Marion Williams left school when she was nine years old to help support the family, and worked as a maid, a nurse, and in factories and laundries.


Marion Williams began singing in front of audiences while young.


Poverty caused Marion Williams to leave school at fourteen to work with her mother at a laundry, although she eventually graduated from Pacific Union College in 1987.


Marion Williams sang at church and on street corners, inspired by a wide range of musicians, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Smith Jubilee Singers.


Marion Williams stayed with gospel in spite of pressure to switch to popular blues tunes or the opera.


In 1946, while visiting a friend in Philadelphia, Marion Williams happened to sing before an audience that included Clara and Gertrude Ward.


Marion Williams's growling, hands-on-the-hips vocal style made her one of the group's undisputed stars.


Marion Williams was invited to join the Ward Singers when they heard her singing during a visit to a close friend in Philadelphia in 1946.


Marion Williams finally joined them in 1947, staying with them for eleven years.


Marion Williams's first recording with the group was "How Far Am I from Canaan", followed by the breakthrough "Surely God Is Able", which launched Williams and the rest of the group into super-stardom.


Dissatisfied with the low pay she was receiving while starring for the group, Marion Williams left the Ward Singers in 1958, followed by most of the rest of the group, to form the Stars of Faith.


The new group was unable to reproduce the success the Ward Singers had enjoyed, as Marion Williams retreated from the spotlight to give other members of the group more opportunity to star.


Marion Williams opens the 1990 video Amazing Grace with Bill Moyers singing the signature song.


Marion Williams performed two songs on The Merv Griffin Show; during the appearance she and Griffin sang a duet of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands".


Marion Williams' singing helped make the Ward Singers nationally popular when they began recording in 1948, and inspired rock and roll pioneer Little Richard's signature wail.


Marion Williams was one of the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1993.


Marion Williams's tribute included an all-star lineup including appearances by Billy Preston, Little Richard, and Aretha Franklin.


Marion Williams died at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia on July 2,1994, aged 66.


Marion Williams was interred at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.