Wynona Carr had everything a girl needs to be a big star; a great voice with range, colour and dynamic control; a pretty face that looked good on publicity material; stage presence; songwriting talent; a powerful sense of ambition: and yet she lacked the vital ingredient of Dumb Luck! She was not the first to try to bridge the gap between Gospel and Blues, and she was an extremely talented young woman, but when she eventually got the chance to take a shot at it, and it all seemed to be working, at the vital moment Fate dealt her a devastating blow.
‘The Pilgrim Traveller’ is a Blues song in disguise!
Wynona kept on composing and many of her songs were covered by others, so she earned more from her writing than from her records. She also continued as musical Director of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, under the guidance of Rev. CL Franklin, so his daughter Aretha probably picked up some tips from Wynona too. After touring with Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight, Wynona made the decision to concentrate her efforts on R&B, and finally had a chart record with ‘Should I Ever Love Again’ in 1957, which got some encouraging crossover radio airplay. Everything was looking good, but around this time Wynona was infected with tubercolosis, and had to stop singing to rest and recuperate. She attempted a comeback in 1959, but Specialty had seen better days and was winding down, so Wynona signed for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. Despite first class production values, her first album for them didn’t sell and Wynona suffered a spell of depression. She returned to Cleveland and played some gigs in the region, but never stepped onto the national stage again. By 1970, she had withdrawn from music as her health declined, and she passed away in her hometown six years later.