She spent much of her adolescence in Canton, Ohio, before returning home to Memphis where she helped to found the groundbreaking all-female acapella group, Songbirds of the South, one of the many female quartets which called Memphis home during the 1940s and ‘50s. Heavily influenced by Clara Ward, George was determined to reach the same artistic and critical heights as her idol.
In 1954, she became a member of the seminal gospel group, The Caravans. The Caravans, which was founded by Robert Anderson in 1947, was famous for their close harmonies and precise rhythms. The Caravans included fellow gospel legends Delores Washington, Inez Andrews, and Josephine Howard. At one time, Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, and Rev. James Cleveland participated in The Caravans’ legacy.
Although Cassietta George initially left the group after less than two years, she rejoined the Caravans in 1960, where she would remain for the next five years. During this period, the Caravans would reign as the most popular touring gospel group of the era, due in no small part to the contributions of George. She quickly rose to be one of the group’s primary singers and writers, and provided lead vocals on the group’s 1962 radio hit “Remember Me.”
Her time with the Caravan wouldn’t reach its apex until 1964 with the song “Walk Around Heaven All Day,” for which she was both the writer and the sole vocalist. As Bill Carpenter writes in his book Uncloudy Days, “The tune ‘Walk Around Heaven’ was not simply a gospel song. It had elements of a protest song and was written during a time of social revolution in America.” Perhaps for this reason, or maybe simply because it is so beautiful, “Walk Around Heaven” has since been elevated to a gospel classic, covered by hundreds of pop and gospel artists, including Thelma Houston and Patti LaBelle. The song was even later sampled by techno artist Moby.
Despite her greatness as a writer, however, George was - and had always been - a singer first. “The potent, clarion voice of Cassietta George rips through crowds with a moving, joyful noise,” wrote biographer Sandra Brennan. Her unique style and sound came from her ability to blend traditional black gospel music with elements from more contemporary sounds, which allowed her to reach a more diverse listening audience which was drawn to her music.
In 1965, Cassietta George left The Caravans in order to launch her solo gospel career with Los Angeles-based Audio Arts Records. In addition to recording over ten albums as a soloist, she also departed on a seemingly endless touring schedule and earned two Grammy nominations and a Stellar Award. From time to time, she would still reunite with The Caravans for gospel concert tours and recordings projects, including the 1978 album Share! with Albertina Walker, Josephine Howard and Deloris Washington.
After a lifetime of spreading the gospel to millions through her angelic voice, Cassietta George passed away in 1995. There’s no doubt that she has secured a place for herself amongst the greatest gospel singers in history.