Born the youngest of nine children on August 29, 1929 in Chicago, IL, Albertina Walker grew up on the south side and started singing as a child at Westpoint Baptist Church. A lot of great gospel artists used to come to her church: the Roberta Martin Singers, Sadie Durham, and Professor Fyre. She joined gospel groups, beginning with the Pete Williams Singers, the Willie Webb Singers, and the Robert Anderson Singers before forming the Caravans in 1951. The original group also included Ora Lee Hopkins, Elyse Yancey, and Nellie Grace Daniels. Classic recordings for the States label between 1952 and 1954 were "Mary Don't You Weep," "Soldiers in the Army," "The Solid Rock," "The Lord I'll Keep Me Day By Day," "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," and "Blessed Assurance." The latter song was redone by Ms. Walker for the soundtrack of Steve Martin's movie Leap of Faith, in which she makes a brief cameo.