WINGS OVER JORDAN CHOIR (WOJC) - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
The WINGS OVER JORDAN CHOIR (WOJC), a prominent African American choir during the late 1930s and early 1940s, made broadcast history with the first independently produced national and international radio programs created by AFRICAN AMERICANS. The group made contributions to choral music and the improvement of race relations. The choir was founded in 1935 by the Rev. GLENN T. SETTLE†, pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church on E. 30th and Scovill Ave. in Cleveland. Rev. Settle believed in using Negro spirituals to spread Christianity. He promoted establishing a radio program to address the Negro community and introduce the non-Negro to the Negro experience. In 1937, the ensemble performed weekly on the "Negro Hour" over RADIO station WGAR, a CBS affiliate. It soon became a hit.
On 9 Jan. 1938 the group adopted the name Wings Over Jordan Choir and national broadcasting began. WOJC performed a decade long series of weekly, sometimes daily, programs for CBS and WGAR exclusively. WOJC was the first full-time professional black choir in America. At its height, the choir performed before sold-out, non-segregated audiences in over 40 states, 5 European countries, Canada, and Mexico. During WORLD WAR II, under USO sponsorship, WOJC toured Army camps in Europe. WOJC's fame resulted in the publication of a songbook and record album, a movie contract, performances with major symphony orchestras, and an invitation to sing at the White House. The choir received numerous honors, including radio's prestigious Peabody Award. It was instrumental in preserving authentic Negro spirituals and became the universal voice of American Negroes.Last Modified: 27 Mar 1998 11:12:44 AM
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