The Mighty Clouds of Joy formed in 1955, and
started recording in 1960, and have been going strong ever since,
through "triumphs and tragedies, successes and near failures," becoming
living legends in the process of serving Jesus Christ through their
unique musical gifts, which have been showcased in their years of
singing Gospel music, taking the genre "to places it seldom, if ever
The original Mighty Clouds of Joy members
were made up of members from three different Los Angeles Gospel groups.
Today, the current membership is made up of two of the original group,
Joe Ligon and Richard Wallace, plus Johnny Valentine, Ron Staples,
and Michael Cook, who have all been singing together for some time.
All members of The Mighty Clouds of Joy have similar backgrounds,
beliefs, and attitudes concerning their faith and their musical efforts.
"We all had similar backgrounds -- we were all raised in the church,
and we all had a like mind about the kind of music we wanted to do.
And we've remained dedicated to each other and the quality of the
music all these years." - Joe Ligon.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, their music has
transcended and endured many musical trends, popular with our society.
"We're a versatile group, and we've done many styles of music over
the years, but our roots are in the traditional style," comments Joe
Ligon. Another one of the well-loved characteristics of their music
which added to and expanded their message is Joe Ligon's singing style,
which was inspired by a radio preacher, Reverend C.L. Franklin, who
had "this preaching kind of thing in his style. I did this preaching
kind of thing in his style to go along with our singing. That was
different from what anybody else was doing, and it became our trademark,"
Joe Ligon explains.
They were the first Gospel group to add bass,
drums, and keyboards to the traditional solo electrical guitar, commonly
used by Gospel music. They also were the first to add a full rhythm
section. In the 1970's, they had great success in adapting Gospel
music sound in the popular disco dance genre. They were the first
Gospel group to be invited onto the secular show, 'Soul Train,' where
they performed their hit, "Mighty High" They continued to evolve
in their presentation of their own unique style of Gospel music.
This changing, unique Gospel style music which
they evolved, pioneered, and created, was first called at one point,
"funkified" Gospel, and has been gradually accepted as a standard
part of Gospel music. Though their style
of Gospel music was at first criticized by tradional Gospel music
lovers, The Mighty Clouds of Joy found that their unique kind of innovative
Gospel music reached out to a wider and wider audience, taking The
Mighty Clouds of Joy and their Gospel message to performances in such
places as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Lincoln Center,
The Kennedy Center, the Astro Dome, on nearly every major T.V. show
in America, including "The Grammy Awards"
Over their years together, they have earned
10 Grammy Award nominations, of which they won three. Joe Ligon and
Richard Wallace, were recently presented with the Lifetime Achievement
Award at the recent Gospel Superfest in Jacksonville, Florida. "They
are some of the most incredible artists of all time. Real soul stirring
gospel artists," comments actor/singer Clifton Davis, host of this
year's Gospel Superfest television show.
The Mighty Clouds of Joy's new album, I Want
to Thank You, is a project that they helped to produce for the first
time, offering a delightful, exciting range of Gospel music, something
for everyone, reaching a large audience to share their love, hope,
and faith in Jesus Christ in a most uplifting, encouraging, personal
way. Performed in their well-developed, unique gospel quartet style,
along with the strong inspiring, gifted, soul-stirring vocals of Joe
Ligon and friends, the sound is sometimes soulful, sometimes exuberant,
but always perfect to express the feeling / mood of the song. They
inspire their audience with both traditional style Gospel songs, which
transform the listener "into a roof-raising church service, and contemporary
Gospel songs, with elements of R&B thrown in, with fresh, high-spirited
In creating this wonderful CD, I Want to Thank
You, The Mighty Clouds of Joy enlisted the help of some major composers
/ producers in today’s contemporary Gospel / R& B / music ranks. Fred
Hammond, Steven Ford, J. Moss, and Paul Allen of P.A.J.A.M., Sanchez
Harley are all on board, along with William Becton, who all contibuted
in a variety of songs, working with Joe Ligon, Ron Staples, Eddie
Alford, Johnny Valentine, and Alphonzo McCain to provide the kind of
music that The Mighty Clouds of Joy can reach an audience that enjoys
not only traditional Gospel, but the more contemporary Gospel sound
Whether traditional or contemporary, all these
songs have a very strong Gospel message, offering both a great introduction
to Gospel music for those new to the genre and also a most gratifying
listening experience for avid Gospel music lovers, as their music
is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is exciting and inspiring for
their expanding audience.
Samples of the Songs on I Want to Thank You
* * * +1) HOOK UP - An energetic praise song,
done Gospel style. A favorite of this reviewer. Composed by Michael
Robinson, Kyle Richardson, Mason Weathersby. Produced by Sanchez Harley
- Backup music cooks with pulsating, syncopated rhythm carried by
horns, piano, organ, guitar, and together with the drums keep the energy
cooking throughout the song. Fine energetic vocals by Joe Ligon and
The Mighty Clouds of Joy.
Lyrical Samples: 1) Several years ago, I came
across a friend....He said he'd lost his family and he had no peace
within....Tried to regain his strength and heal his pain....I said
don't worry my friend, let me recommend...
Chorus: I got the hook up! (oh yeah!) Jesus!!
(Oh, yeah, he's a friend of mine). I got the hook up! (let me tell
you about my friend) Jesus! (If you don't know him, you need to get
to know him) I love the name Jesus! (yeah, Whooo!)
2) Now let me tell you about my daily walk...When
I get weary and my path is dark....When my way gets blocked and I
lose my course...I pray and I'm connected to my power source. Chorus
Spoken by Joe Ligon: (If you trust the Lord,
everything will be okay, He'll make everything right for you. Come
on felllas, go to church with me).
Bridge: You can't tell it like I can, what
He's done for me... If you're looking for a friend, he's the one I
2). * * * + GOD CAN - Composed by Paul Lawrence
Kelly, and produced by Joe Ligon, Ron Staples, and Alphonso McClain.
Described as an old school, extended workout Gospel song with traditional,
soulful vocals, and nicely arranged Gospel music, using piano / organ/
keyboard chords in various slow - fast rhythms, nice backup melody
by guitars, easy drums.
Joe Ligon comments on this song: "God gave
mankind a lot of wisdom, but there are just some things men cannot
do. But nothing is too hard for God."
Lyrical Samples: There are things, that man
can do...He can sail through the air in his plane...though man can
do a lot of things, he is limited....Now tell me...
Chorus: Can you catch the wind, can you make
the world spin...Can you pull the sun down...Can you raise man from
the ground...Oh no, but I know who can....God can....God can....God
There's a master for everything, for every
kingdom...There's a king, though man can do just about anything...God
is still the Master, and He's always gonna be the King.
(There was a man that came to this earth....Over
two thousand years ago....this man had power, He had power...More
power than any man... He can heal the sick with just a touch of His
hand... Let me tell you what elese this man can do....)
3) * * * I WANT TO THANK YOU - Composed by
Johnny Valentine. Produced by Joe Ligon and Johnny Valentine. Rousing
Gospel praise song, that helps the listener be thankful as well, for
all the blessings the Lord has given, and remember all the trials He
has seen them through.
Lyrical Samples: I know You've been blessing
me, since my childhood days... No matter how hard I try, I just can't
count the ways...You're always a prayer away....You're always a prayer
away.... Through everyone one of my ups and downs...A friend in You
I truly found...Oh Lord! I want to thank You.
Chorus: Oh Lord! I want to thank You, Oh Lord,
I want to thank You...Well You woke me up this morning, started me
on my way...Oh Lord, I want to thank You, Oh Lord, I want to thank
4) * * * SEEKING THE FIRE - Composed by James
Moss, and produced by PAJAM. A snappy, contemporary Gospel song, reminding
us to depend on the Lord's strength through his Holy Spirit. Christians
need to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit in order to serve Jesus
in their daily walk. We need to make time with the Lord in prayer,
quiet time, and studying His Word. Moss's style of having rhythmic
contemporary backgrounds is evident in interesting patterns using
plucking of strings, short rhythmc draw bow action on cello, etc.
short measures of broken chords of electric guitar/ piano keyboard,
all held together by the syncopated rhythm of percussion, and supports
the vocals very well. Vocals alone carry the melody, a fine job by
Ron Staples and background vocals by The Mighty Clouds of Joy and
J. Moss himself.
Lyrical Samples: I don't want to offend
anybody...but listen to me as I state my pleas...I been saved for
a while now...But I'm feeling like something is missing...don't get
me wrong, I'm happy like oooh whee... I think I need to be closer,
I want the fire to be burning in me.
Chorus: Seeking the fire, seeking the fire...
I wanna go higher...Lord let the Holy Ghost come and reside with me...Seeking
the fire, seeking the fire...I never retire, until I'm living with
the Holy Ghost fire in me.
I wanna be like the disciples...When they
went into the upper room...They stayed for a while now...And they
prayed like they were on a mission..Don't get me wrong, I have blemishes...But
He renewed me... I think I need to be closer, I need the fire to be
burning in me.
5) * * * + HE WILL DO IT - by Michael Robinson,
Kyle Richardson, Mason Weathersby and Sanchez Harley. Produced by
Sanchez Harley. Main vocals powerfully, inspirationally sung / spoken
by Joe Ligon and Dottie Peoples. Slow Waltz time feel to the music.
It is a song that would feel right at home at a church service. Chords
of piano, guitars hold the rhythm, along with drums, plus embellishments
all add umph to the wonderful heartfelt vocals of Joe and Dottie Peoples.
A favorite of this reviewer! A song to bolster one's faith and courage
during little and big trials. Their soulful, spirit-filled performances
speak to and encourage the listener, no matter what emotional condition
one is in. Great traditional Gospel Music.
Joe and Dottie start the song by speaking
the introduction with much feeling, taking turns, sometimes commenting
on what the other has said. Main script: (God is a good God, and He's
a merciful God... there are times when things don't always go right
in our lives...We're worried about this and that, sickness is on us,
our children are acting up.... But if we would just fall on our knees
and cry out to God, He'll come and see about us... He honors the prayers
of the righteous, if you would just trust and obey...Keep the faith
and hold on to His unchanging hand; He'll be there I know He will.
First Chorus: He will do it (Just ask Him and
you will receive) He will do it (No matter what the problem may be)
He will do it (He will take away all your pain), He will do it (He
will do it over and over), He will do it over and over again.
Lyrical Samples: The doctor said it's
over, prepare, for there is no cure....Once again your faith is being
tested, yes it is, you don't know how much more you can endure....You're
wondering if your prayers were in vain, and how you're gonna make
it through the rain. Bridge: Well, my God is looking down, He can
take the pain and turn it around, just believe and call out to Him.
Second Chorus: He will do it (My doctor's
name is Doctor Jesus, and I know He'll fix it), he will do it (How
do I know it I tried Him along time ago) he will do it (when it gets
too hard for me, its just right for Jesus), He will do it (Yes, he'll
take away all your pain), He'll (God is a man who will not lie. He
said He'll be there, through the storm and the rain),Yes He did. (I
don't care what the problem is, my God can fix it).........................
6) RIGHT HERE WAITING, (COME SEE ABOUT ME)
- Composed by Marc Harris / Bebe Winan. Produced by Marc Harris. R
& B infused in this Gospel song, with "blues-inflected vocals and
guitars, in a swing style gospel beat."
Lyrical Samples: Who do I turn to when all
hope is gone...Who can I call on, when there's nobody home...Feelin'
forsaken not a love one I see...I'm askin' You, Jesus, please come
see about me.
Chorus: I'm right here waitin', come see about
me....heart anticipating, come see about me. My soul look back and
wonders, How I made it over...Come hear about the love of my life.
7) * * * + JESUS MADE A WAY FOR ME - Composed
by Alphonse McCain. Produced by Alphonse McCain & Joe Ligon. A joyful,
lively praise song. Fast swing beat, lively drums, guitars really
cook, along with the horns, organ, piano and keyboards. Another favorite
of this reviewer.
Chorus: My Jesus made a way for me....Oh, my
Jesus made a way for me....when I was down and out, I couldn't see
my way...My Jesus made a way for me.
1) When I was lost, and couldn't see my way...
My Jesus made a way for me...I want to thank Him, for showing me which
way to go, My Jesus made a way for me...
You know what He did, He brought me out of
darkness, into the marvelous light...set my feet on straight street,
now I can see the light... I want to thank Him for showing me which
way to go....
8) * * * HE CHOSE ME - by James Cleveland,
produced by Sanchez Harley. Lovely quartet harmony, smooth musical,
harmonious support of organ, piano, guitars, easy drums and keyboards.
Great dynamics. Soulful vocals by Joe bring this hym-like gospel song
Lyrical Samples: (Someone asked: Am I good
enough to be used?..) Use me Lord in Thy services, draw me nearer
every day, Lord I'm willing to run all the way...If I stumble while
I'm trying, don't be angry Lord, let me stay....I'm willing to run
all the way....
I give You my heart, I give You my soul, I
give You my life, complete control.
Chorus: He chose me, He chose me out of all
that He could have used....He chose me, He chose me, he can use me
'til He use me up.
Thank you Jesus, for choosing me.. .....use
me up, I don't mind......
9) THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN - Composed by Evelyn
Simpson-Curenton. Produced by Eddie "Spanky" Alford. Song has pretty
musical accompaniement. Nice acoustic guitar & electric / bass guitar
with keyboards, easy drums. Strong lead vocals by Joe Ligon and Ron
Lyrical Sample: Well, I gave Him my old filthy
garment... He gave me a robe pure and white... Now I'm feasting on
manna from heaven...And that's why I'm happy tonight.
Joy in the morning, joy all the time...I'm
so happy that I have this joy, and it's mine all mine.
Chorus: The windows of heaven are open...Blessings
are falling tonight...There is joy in my heart, there is joy in my
soul...Jesus made everything right.
10)* * * + BAD NEWS GOOD NEWS- Soulful, bluesy
Gospel, with a rock beat; drums, electric guitars, organ, keyboard
all cook in the background. Vocals by Joe Ligon, in top form using
his singing / preaching style, backed up by the marvelous voices of
The Mighty Clouds of Joy.
The three verses deal with three national
horrors, events considered real bad news. The Columbine High School
killings, The drowning of five children in a bathtub in Houston, and
the 9/11 attacks in New York. Despite all the awful things that are
happening around us, believers can hold onto the hope in Jesus Christ,
who is coming back to call up His believers, riding on the clouds,
bringing good news, and reuniting loved ones.
Chorus: Bad news everywhere, Bad news everywhere... Bad
news everywhere, I'll be so glad when Jesus comes.
2) There's another thing fellas....when I think
about my hometown in Houston Texas...There was five beautiful little
children one day....Playing around in the house and the devil got
busy...Yes he did...One by one that woman took those five little children...And
they all had Bible names...A little girl named Mary, a little boy
named Luke....and another one named John.....but oh, she took them,
all five of them...She'd taken them one by one...and drowned them
in the bathtub.......that oldest little boy wanted to live so bad...But
he couldn't figure out what was goin; on....but they all lost their
lives, you know what that was. Chorus.
Let me close this thing now...One of these
days Jesus is coming back...Looks like I can see Him riding on a cloud....Telling
His people, "Y'all get ready...It's getting ready to be good news."
Good News, Good News! Looka here, Jesus will
call his people... Those five little Houston children are gonna rise
up on wings on a eagle, those children in Colorado are going to get
up, all my loved ones that have left me here......
11) * * * +NEW CREATURE - Composed by Paul
Allen / James Moss. Produced by PAJAM. Exciting composition mixing
elements of old time gospel with some interesting use of organ/piano
sound, steady beat of snare on first & 3rd beat of song, creating
a real hand clapper / foot stomper!! Another favorite of this reviewer.
Interesting vocals have both elements of traditional and contemporary
Gospel. Chorus joins in on the second part of the phrases in 1 & 2,
after Joe sings 1 and 2 alone.
1) If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature....Old
things are passed away, and all things are new...Put away what's in
the past, and reach up ahead....Forget about old things, because the
past is dead.
2) But what you need to do, is take the time
to think about...Your life He saved, 'cause, if He did it for you
yesterday...He can do the same thing today.
Joe Ligon: (I feel my hip coming on...Let's
take this thing to church... come on!)
Faster tempo, both Joe and backup vocals:
I am a new creature, I am not the same...I am a new creature, old
things are passed away.
12) * * * HE DIDN'T BRING ME THIS FAR - Composed
by Terrell Gatlin. Produced by: Joe Ligon, Ron Staples, and & Alphonso
McCain. Solumn, classic Gospel song, with piano and organ, keyboards,
guitar, light drums, nice chord progressions. Has great dynamics.
Chorus: He didn't bring me this far, just to
leave me alone... .For I come, come this far by faith, Oh Lord....
If I trust him and never doubt, God will surely bring me out. He didn't
bring me this far, just to leave me alone.
Now I see a lot of mothers and fathers...Struggling
and straining, trying to make ends meet...But what they didn't know,
is to keep trusting Jesus...Is more than you can ask for at His feet....if
you be strong and hold on, keep the faith....Don't ever stop running
this race. He didn't bring me this far, just to leave me alone...
Pesonal testimony about his stroke in Oklahoma city, done in his singing/
preaching style, with chorus singing: "He didn't bring me this far,
just to leave me alone."
Reviewed by Julie Carr.