EST. 1958

The Jewels

Formed while attending Roosevelt High School in Washington, DC in 1958, the group was first known as the Impalas, then the Renaults. The Four Jewels consisted of Sandra Bears, Grace Ruffin, Margie Clarke and Carrie Mingo.

In 1962, under the direction of D.C. producer Bob Lee, The Four Jewels recorded the single “Loaded With Goodies” on the Start Label. During this time Bob Lee changed the name of The Four Jewels to The Jewels.

Along with other talented young singers out of Washington, D.C., such as The Marquees (the first vocal group that Marvin Gaye sang with) and Billy Stewart, The Four Jewels would gather at the home recording studio of the legendary R&B guitarist, Bo Diddley, who then lived in Northeast Washington DC. Bo Diddley recorded on the Chess Label in Chicago, Illinois. He was also an A&R man for the label recruiting Washington, DC area talent such as The Four Jewels, Billy Stewart and the Knight Brothers. The Jewels first recordings on the Chess subsidiary label Checker included “Loaded with Goodies” (1963) (a re-release from the original version on the Start label), “Dapper Dan” (1963) and “That’s What They Put Erasers On Pencils For” (1964) (also recorded by the Gems, whose members included Minnie Ripperton). The Four Jewels also backed Billy Stewart on his Chess recording “Reap What You Sow”, which became Billy Stewart’s first recording to hit the charts.

In the early 1960s, Carrie Mingo left the group, and she was replaced by Martha Harvin (now known as Martha High). In 1964 the group released their first national hit "Opportunity" on the Dimensions label. The Dimensions label was owned by promoter, Don Kirshner. The song “Opportunity” stayed on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks.
In 1963, the Jewels were spotted by the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown during one of their performances at the historic Apollo Theater in New York. Impressed with The Jewels talent, Brown recruited the ladies to join him as part of the legendary “James Brown Revue”. The original agreement was for the Jewels to join the revue for 3 dates. However, because they were so well received the Jewels stayed on the road for one year with James Brown and became his first female background singers. They appear on the song “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”. On the James Brown song “Don’t Be A Dropout”, James Brown calls out “The Jewels” during the song. The Jewels recorded several songs produced by Brown, including “This Is My Story” and “Mama Left Papa Holding The Bag”. After their first year on tour with the James Brown Revue, Sandra Bears and Grace Ruffin left the tour to return home to Washington, DC. Martha Harvin (then named Martha High by James Brown), stayed on with the James Brown Revue for some 30 years.

The Jewels have over 20 recordings, which have made an impact on the national and local R&B charts. The group secured their place in early R&B and Doo-Wop history with their appearance in the portrait “The Pioneers of Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop, June 6, 1999”. On March 17, 2008, The Jewels were honored for their contributions to the arts and culture of Washington, DC by the Mayor of Washington, DC in an extravagant award ceremony held in The Kennedy Center Concert Hall. In 2012, The Jewels were the subject of a PBS award winning documentary “The Jewels: The Divas of DC Doo-Wop”

In September 2019, the original Jewels member Marjorie (Margie) Clarke died at the age of 74.

The Jewels

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“Take a lesson from a fool's advice opportunity knocks once, not twice”

- The Jewels

The Jewels

Recordings