Sunday, February 15, 2009
Mahalia Jackson - He's got the the whole world in his hand!
Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an African-American gospel singer, widely regarded as the best in the history of the genre, and is the first "Queen of Gospel Music". With her powerful, distinct voice, Mahalia Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world. 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."
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 singer Albertina Walker (who is the present "Queen of Gospel Music", heir to Mahalia's legacy.) She also discovered a young Della Reese.
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 prestigeous Grammy Award. She performed for Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. She has also given performances for Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill of the U.K., the King and Queen of Denmark, the Presidents of France and Liberia, the Empress of Japan, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, the prime ministers of several Caribbean islands and several other heads of state and political figures worldwide.