How I Got Over

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"How I Got Over"
Song by Clara Ward
Songwriter(s)Clara Ward

"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), and the Blind Boys of Alabama (2008 on their 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.[1]

Aretha Franklin recorded an uptempo alternate version of the song on her 1972 album Amazing Grace, and this same arrangement was performed twice in the 1974 Sidney Poitier film Uptown Saturday Night by the film's church choir with an alternate singer (no credits were given) and was produced by Tom Scott who also produced the film's soundtrack.

In 2018, Ward's original rendition was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."[2]


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 while traveling in the racially segregated Southern States 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.[3]


  1. ^ Video on YouTube
  2. ^ "National Recording Registry Reaches 500". Library of Congress. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Ward-Royster, Willa, "How I Got Over: Clara Ward and the World-Famous Ward Singers", Temple University Press, 1997, paper ISBN 1-56639-490-2, pp. 102-104.