Female Trailblazer, Gospel Icon, Louisiana Legend Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson, also known as the Queen of Gospel, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1912. Jackson was a music icon in her home state during the height of racial segregation and was widely considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century.
Despite the rampant Jim Crow ideology in the South, she still made music history selling close to 22 million records. She also performed around the globe to worldwide audiences, ultimately making her mark as one of the most revered gospel artists of all time. Born to a devout Christian family her mother and father Charity Clark and Johnny Jackson made sure her religious roots were strong. By age 4, Mahalia was singing at her family's Mount Moriah Baptist Church, leaving no question as to what she was destined to be when she grew up.
Little Know Facts
Mahalia Jackson's music style was actually influenced by secular blues artists of her day. The rhythmic sounds of music legends like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey were uniquely blended into Jackson's sanctified style of performance. This of course set her apart from the more conservative gospel singers throughout her career.
Mahalia was also very close to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not only was she an active member of the Civil Rights Movement, but many times she would accompany Dr. King to some of the most hostile places in the segregated South to sing at fundraising rallies. Believe it or not, their friendship would also lead to one of the most historic speeches of his legacy, 'I Have A Dream.' See how this moment in history unfolding and the role that she played that set things in motion below.