How I Got Over
|"How I Got Over"|
|Song by Clara Ward|
|Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Blind Boys of Alabama, The Caravans, Reef|
How I Got Over is a Gospel hymn composed and published in 1951 by Clara Ward (1924–1973). Notable recordings of this work have been made by Mahalia Jackson (1961, winner of the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1976), Aretha Franklin (1972 on her Amazing Grace live record album), and the Blind Boys of Alabama (2008 album Down in New Orleans). It was performed by Mahalia Jackson at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 before 250,000 people.
According to her sister, Willa Ward, the inspiration for this song was an experience Clara Ward, Willa, their mother, Gertrude, and members of their singing group had traveling in the racially segregated South in 1951. En route to Atlanta, Georgia, they were besieged by a group of white men. The men were enraged that Black women were riding in a luxury vehicle (a Cadillac), and surrounded their car and terrorized them with racist taunts. The women were rescued when, in a burst of inspiration, Gertrude Ward feigned demonic possession, spewing curses and incantations at the men, who fled.