Happy Birthday Mahalia
Mahalia Jackson, the "Queen of Gospel Song," was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 26, 1911. Jackson grew up singing gospel music at the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church where her father preached. At age sixteen, she migrated to Chicago where she supported herself by doing housekeeping and odd jobs.
Jackson sang regularly at Chicago's South Side Greater Baptist Church and often collaborated with Thomas Dorsey, the "Father of Gospel Music." Originally a blues musician, Dorsey began to write sacred music early in the century, using the sounds and rhythms of blues and jazz. Over the years, gospel made a lasting impact on blues and soul artists, including Aretha Franklin, who listened to Mahalia Jackson sing at Rev. C. L. Franklin's New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
Jackson hosted a radio program in Chicago for CBS, and often her powerful voice concluded the day's local television broadcast. She recorded with Duke Ellington, packed Carnegie Hall on a number of occasions, and sang for four presidents.
Jackson was sixty-years-old years old when she died in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, Illinois. At her funeral, Coretta Scott King described the singer as "black…proud…[and] beautiful." She recalled her husband saying of Jackson, "A voice like this comes, not once in a century, but once in a millennium."