Once again I find myself woefully uneducated in music history. This video recently came across my dash, and I immediately fell in love with the power and emotion of Mahalia Jackson’s voice. I then looked her up and discovered that Mahalia Jackson is considered to be one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. And yet somehow, this is the first I’ve heard of her. Well, it’s time to rectify that.
After a quick Google search, I now know that Mahalia Jackson was a key figure in the popularization of gospel music in the 40s and 50s. She often turned down high paying, but secular, gigs, preferring instead to perform in churches, often for free. She was the first gospel recording artist to tour Europe, and in 1961, she was selected to perform the national anthem at the Inaugural Ball of John F. Kennedy. When she died in 1972, Harry Belafonte declared that she was “the most powerful black woman in the United States”.
I clearly have a lot to learn about music history and the pioneers of the last century. Especially when it comes to Black women. But I will keep searching them out and learning as much as I can. I will also be adding Mahalia Jackson to my regular playlists, because her voice is simply extraordinary. I’ve never been particularly drawn to gospel music, but I could listen to her all day.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!