Born into a Baptist family in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1904, Willie Mae sang everything from hymns to work-songs and Blues, but when she joined with her three sisters they were a sensation in the world of Gospel music. She was discovered as a teenager at The Baptist Convention and was later taken up by Rev. Thomas Dorsey, the founder of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs, and she took it on herself to organise the soloists bureau. As the lead voice of the Ford Sisters, Willie Mae was a star soloist and arranger, and mentor to Brother Joe May, Martha Bass (mother of Fontella!), and many others.