Mighty Clouds of Joy


Contemporary Gospel,Contemporary R&B,New Orleans R&B


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After 44 years and 35 albums, three Grammys and trophy-case  full of almost every award imaginable; shows that have run a gamut from the church-house to the White House, and top-billings with a dazzling roster of superstar artists from nearly every genre of popular music (the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles and Paul Simon are but a few), The Mighty Clouds of Joy are more than a Gospel legend.  They are nothing less than a national treasure.

Still, one must choose his words carefully when describing The Mighty Clouds of Joy.  "Icons?" Absolutely.  "Pioneers?" Without a doubt.  "Venerable?" Most certainly.  "Forefathers" of modern Gospel, R&B, rock and pop? It's just the straight fact of the matter; but don't let founding member and lead vocalist, Joe Ligon, or any of the other five Clouds hear you referring to them with any synonym that even hints at greatness in the past tense.

Born and raised in rural Alabama, the musically gifted but still stage-shy Joe moved to Los Angeles to live with his uncle in his early teens.  He teamed with a couple of singing classmates, one of whom was Johnny Martin, Clouds' co-founder and career member until his death in 1987.  As that core group drew singers from several other popular local groups, including Richard Wallace, the first incarnation of The Mighty Clouds of Joy was formed. By 1960, they had a major Gospel record deal, with a hit single and album flying up the charts, portending from the start what would be far greater things to come.

Adding bass, drums, and keyboards to the previously sparse traditional quartet accompaniment of a lone electric guitar, as well a colorful, matching outfits and a smooth, choreographed stage presence, The Mighty Clouds of Joy were major Gospel innovators from the start.

Moving to then-giant ABC Records in 1974 brought the first of a decade-long string of big R&B-flavored Gospel hits records for The Mighty Clouds of Joy, featuring "Mighty High," which peaked at No.2 on the Billboard dance charts in ‘75.  Even as they began to work a steady rotation of major secular venues-including Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Carter White House, and the Apollo Theater-The Mighty Clouds of Joy never dodged their roles as believers, nor shied away from their identity as a devoutly Gospel group.  Still, it was a fairly radical, even daring, move for a Gospel act to make at the time, and one that Joe now is not afraid to admit he sometimes worried over. However, in retrospect, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, like no act before them, had in fact carried the Gospel message into the age of modern R&B and urban music that is today a cornerstone of the genre.

"Looking back," Joe says, "I can see that we were able to take Gospel music through a lot of doors, and to a lot of places and people it had never been before.  And there's no way that could ever be anything but good."

Still joined today by his early partner Wallace, and longtime members and vocalists Mike Cook and Ron Staples, with Johnny Valentine, Orick Ewing, Alfred Hudson and Ervin "Big Man" Williams making up the band, Joe, who was and is the living, breathing definition of a true "soul" singer says the word "retirement" is not even a part of his vocabulary.

"Gospel singers never retire,"  Joe says, laughing.  "They'll sing until they can't talk anymore.  And if they can't walk, they might just get in a wheelchair and roll out on that stage and sing.  The Mighty Clouds of Joy have had their share of tough times, especially playing the South back in the ‘60s, when a black person couldn't even count on getting a motel room, or service in a restaurant.  I've had many a meal served on a greasy paper plate out of the back door of kitchen. But we made it through all that, and we're still here and singing better than ever.  I have no complaints.  How could I? Even if I was given the chance, I wouldn't change a bit of it."

"We've achieved every dream I ever held in my life, and far more, just to inspire people to want to go on living," he concludes.  "Folks find something in Gospel that they don't find in any other kind of music, and it changes their lives.  They know Christ is real-even though they've never seen Him-because they can feel His presence in Gospel music.  Just to used by Him like that, even in a small way...who could ever ask for anything greater than that?"

Indeed.  And who could ask for 45-years-and-counting of the passionate and stirring, still sweet and soulful sound of the once and ever The Mighty Clouds of Joy?

Listen to The Mighty Clouds of Joy


Album Title Year Label
A Bright Side1960Universal Special Products
Family Circle1960Peacock Gospel Classics
The Mighty Clouds of Joy Live at the Music Hall1966Peacock Gospel Classics
Sing Live Zion SongsHoB Records1968
Catching OnWord Distribution1972
The Best of the Mighty Clouds of Joy1973Universal Distribution
The Best of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vol. 21973MCA Special Prodcuts
Live At The Apollo1973Peacock Gospel Classics
Kickin'1975Peacock Gospel Classics
It's Time1976Peacock Gospel Classics
Truth Is Power1977Peacock Gospel Classics
Live and Direct1978Peacock Gospel Classics
Changing Times1979Sony Music Distribution
Miracle Man1982Myrrh Records
Cloudburst1985Myrrh Records
Mighty Clouds Alive1985Word Distribution
Sing & Shout1987Word Distribution
The Best of The Mighty Clouds of Joy1987Peacock
Night Song1989Word Distribution
Mighty Clouds of Joy Live1990Universal Special Products
Pray For Me1990Word Distribution
Presenting The Mighty Clouds of Joy1990Universal Special Products
There's No Friend Like Jesus1990Universal Special Products
Memory Lane: The Best of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Recordings From 1960-19931993Word Distribution
Glad About It1995Liquid 8
Faith, Mercy, Glory1996King Records
Together As One1996Intersound
Glory Hallelujah1996MCA Special Products
Live in Charleston1996Intersound
In Concert: Live at the Music Hall1998Universal Special Products
It Was You1999CGI Platinum
Amazing Grace20024 A.M.
I Want to Thank You2002Light Records
20th Century Masters:The Best of Mighty Clouds of Joy2002MCA Records
Mighty Clouds of Joy: Super Set2004Light Records
I Ain't Got Long to Stay Here2004Liquid 8
The Greatest Hits of Mighty Clouds of Joy2005Intersound
In the House of the Lord: Live in Houston2005EMI Gospel
Gospel Gold2005BCI Music
Mighty Clouds of Joy2006St. Clair
Greatest Hits2006Prestige Records
This Is Gospel Vol 72006Calvin Records
Forever Gold2007St. Clair
Movin'2007EMI Music Distribution
If Jesus Can't Fix It2007EMI Gospel
Gospel Legacy2008Light Records
Best of The Mighty Clouds of Joy (KRB)2008KRB Music
Definitive Gospel Collection2008Word Distribution
Platinum Praise Collection2008Light Records
At The Revival2010EMI Gospel



Los Angeles


United States

Record Label:

EMI Gospel

Christian Label:


Years Active: