National recording artists, wrote "Prayer Changes Things"

By Roosevelt Wright, Jr.
In 1959 Ora Lee Jordan and Robert Thomas formed a gospel singing group called the Jordan Singers. There were many gospel groups in Northeast Louisiana at the time, many of whom were frowned upon by traditional congregations because they used guitars and drums, and often their music reflected the chord structure and beat of popular rhythm and blues songs.

The Jordan Singers had various members between 1959 and 1980 when the group broke up. Among the members besides its founders were: Cora Wiley and Ardella Spears. After 1969: Versie Mae Wimberly Gibson, Pearlee Tolliver (listed as an announcer, but also did vocals on the 1970 album "I want to be free) Joe Thompson (guitar) and H.P. Gibson (Guitar).

The group participated in many events in the local community, but H.P. Gibson encouraged the group to seek a record contract. In 1969 they landed a record contract with Checker Records. In 1970 the first album was released entitled "I want to be free." Ardella Spears led the key song on the album "I've been searching."
The first contract led to agreements with other companies. They also recorded for Chess Records, Jewel Records, and T.K. Records.

The group traveled the country at first in a 1963 Lincoln. They all crowded into the car with guitars, music and changes. Later they acquired a van. Gipson, who helped negotiate their contract, insisted that the group not interfere with the education of his children or their participation in their local community. National fame was nothing if they could not sing at home, and provide for the education of their own children, Gipson insisted.

Except for recording sessions in Chicago the group limited its travels to venues that were close enough for them to travel, perform and return in time for their children to be in school. During the summer months they traveled across the country and were listed on performance cards with many of the gospel greats of their time. Two young groups: The Winans and Walter Hawkins, opened for the Jordan singers when they performed in California.

In all, the group traveled to 38 states, produced four albums and four number one hit songs before breaking up in 1980. Their last album, produced in 1977 was "Gloryland"

A stage play "A shout over Jordan" detailing the history of the Jordan Singers was performed at the Monroe Civic Center in February of 2011.