Mahalia Jackson, “Queen of Gospel Song”

Our featured reformer for the month of February is Mahalia Jackson. She was a singer of American gospel music, known around the world for her ability to delight and move. Her music had texts drawn from biblical themes and was heavily influenced by the blues. While she had offers to sing other types of music, Jackson remained faithful to the gospel music genre, which she sang since her days growing up in the church choir in New Orleans. Jackson had great success, giving annual overflowing concerts at Carnegie Hall, and performing at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Her success brought backlash, including violent threats from her white neighbors in Chicago.

Jackson was active in the civil rights movement, famously singing at the March on Washington in 1963. She played a large role in the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He had been developing the “dream” theme in previous public statements and was encouraged to use it that day when Jackson shouted, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin!” Mahalia Jackson created much beauty in the world, and she used it for the sake of justice for all people.

-information gathered from http://www.britannica.com/biography/Mahalia-Jackson, http://www.mahaliajackson.us/biography/1969.php, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxlOlynG6FY

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