Saturday, October 26, 2013

MAHALIA JACKSON ~~~October 26, 1911 ~~~January 27, 1972 ~~~102nd Birthday

Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an African-American gospel singer. With her powerful, distinct voice, Mahalia Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and is the first Queen of Gospel Music. She recorded about 35 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"—million-sellers. She had a contralto voice range.

Mahalia Jackson is widely regarded as the greatest gospel singer in history and one of the great voices of the twentieth century. Her music was never played widely on any but traditional gospel and traditional Christian radio stations. Her music was heard for decades on Family Radio. Her good friend Martin Luther King Jr said, "A voice like hers comes along once in a millennium."

She was a close friend of Doris Akers, one of the most prolific gospel composers of the 20th century. In 1958, they co-wrote the hit, "Lord, Don't Move The Mountain". Mahalia also sang many of Akers' own compositions such as, "God Is So Good To Me", "God Spoke To Me One Day", "Trouble", "Lead On, Lord Jesus", and "He's A Light Unto My Pathway", helping Doris to secure her position as the leading female Gospel composer of that time.

She was also good friends with present day "Queen of Gospel" Dr. Albertina Walker. She would take young Albertina on the road with her and spent lots of time with her mentoring and molding her into what she has become today. She'd often tell Albertina that she should be out on her own. Albertina did just that in 1952, when she founded her very own gospel group The Caravans. Albertina is heir to Mahalia's thrown as Queen of Gospel.

In addition to sharing her singing talent with the world, she mentored the extraordinarily gifted Aretha Franklin. Mahalia was also good friends with Dorothy Norwood and fellow Chicago-based gospel singers. She also discovered a young Della Reese. Jackson was present at the opening night of Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music in December 1957.

On the twentieth anniversary of her passing, Smithsonian Folkways Recording commemorated Jackson with the album, I Sing Because I'm Happy, which includes interviews about her childhood conducted by Jules Scherwin.

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences created the Gospel Music or Other Religious Recording category for Mahalia making her the first Gospel Music Artist to win the prestigious Grammy Award.

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