Name: The Sweet Inspirations
- Sylvia Shemwell
- Estelle Brown
- Ann Williams
- Marna Smith
  Left to right: Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown, Ann Williams and Marna Smith.

[The Sweet Inspirations,
Marna Smith pictured far right
Estelle Brown pictured second left

Ann Williams from Portsmouth, VA.


Marna Smith from Portsmouth, VA

Estelle Brown from New York, NY.

Musical role: Backing singers

The Sweet Inspirations performed with Elvis on almost every show. They also worked with Elvis' in the studio and on his last recording session at Graceland.

The group evolved from the '50s gospel group the Drinkard Singers. At various points, soul singers Doris Troy, Judy Clay, Dionne Warwick, and sister Dee Dee Warwick were members.

By the time they began to record on their own in 1967, their leader was Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney), and the women were renamed the Sweet Inspirations.

As an Atlantic recording act, the group cut some fine sides that rank among the clearest illustrations of the close links between soul music and gospel harmony. Usually sticking to material by famed soul and pop songwriters, they had about a half-dozen moderate R&B hits in the late '60s; the biggest, "Sweet Inspiration," was a Top 20 pop single.

Houston left the group at the end of the '60s and the Inspirations left Atlantic in the early '70s and in addition to working with Elvis, recording an album for Stax in 1973.