With a sound that merged rock stylings with gospel songs, Little Rock’s Gladys McFadden and the Loving Sisters challenged traditional gospel music during the 1960s and ‘70s.
McFadden and the Loving Sisters – Jo Dumas, Ann James and Lorraine Leeks – played before a full band, unlike the stripped-down sounds of most gospel. After a 1964 Chicago performance, a listener wrote a local newspaper: “I was so ashamed of the entire program. I never expected to hear rock and roll at a religious service.”
The group’s 1965 debut album, Trying Times, earned a three-star review in Billboard magazine and they often preceded speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at protest functions. They recorded a tribute album after his death.
The band released four albums in the 1970s, one of which was nominated for a Grammy Award, before retiring from the national scene. They were inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003.
Learn more about Gladys McFaddin and the Loving Sisters at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.