Mahalia Jackson is called the Queen of Gospel for good reason. She had the soul and booming voice that could make even the hardest heart soften. She was born October 26, 1911 and died January 27, 1972. She gave gospel music a place on the front stage as she appeared on the Variety and Talk Shows of her time. It was unheard of gospel reaching mainstream America until Mahalia’s arrival on the scene.
Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world, and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist; entertainer Harry Belafonte called her “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”.The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences created the Gospel Music or Other Religious Recording category for Jackson making her the first Gospel Music Artist to win the prestigious Grammy Award.
n 1927, at the age of sixteen, Jackson moved from the south to Chicago, Illinois, in the midst of the Great Migration. After her first Sunday church service, where she had given an impromptu performance of her favorite song, “Hand Me Down My Silver Trumpet, Gabriel”, she was invited to join the Greater Salem Baptist Church Choir. She began touring the city’s churches and surrounding areas with the Johnson Gospel Singers, one of the earliest professional gospel groups.In 1929 Jackson met the composer Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music. He gave her musical advice, and in the mid-1930s they began a fourteen-year association of touring, with Jackson singing Dorsey’s songs in church programs and at conventions. His “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” became her signature song.
American Idol winner and Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Fantasia Barrino has been cast to play Mahalia Jackson in a biopic about her life. The movie will be based on the 1993 book Got to Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel.