In The Upper Room !
Mahalia Jackson reigned as a pioneer interpreter of gospel music whose fervent contralto was one of the great voices of this century. Both gospel and rhythm & blues had their roots in the Sanctified church, but whereas blues and R&B departed on secular paths that led to rock and roll, gospel stayed the spiritual course. Nonetheless, the influence of gospel on R&B and rock and roll, especially through such force-of-nature voices as Jackson’s, is inescapable.
Little Richard has cited Jackson as an inspiration, calling her “the true queen of spiritual singers.”
In Jackson’s own words, “Rock and roll was stolen out of the sanctified church!” Certainly, in the unleashed frenzy of the “spirit feel” style of gospel epitomized by such singers as Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one can hear the rousing roots of rock and roll. One of Jackson’s accompanists was keyboardist Billy Preston !
Mahalia Jackson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 26, 1911 or 1912, and died of heart failure in Chicago on January 27, 1972.
The Jackson swinging beat coupled with an intense, expressive, and emotional performance met with resistance in many black churches. Some felt the music to be too jazzy—too worldly for church worship. Likewise, her repertoire expanded to include arrangements with orchestra in place of the piano and organ that she previously used.
She spent five years touring with composer Thomas A. Dorsey, singing at gospel tents and churches. Jackson recorded for Decca in 1937 and for Apollo from 1946-1954. She then moved to Columbia Records, where she achieved broad recognition as a singer of spirituals. She also lent her powerful voice and imprimatur to the Civil Rights movement of the Fifties and Sixties.
* In The Upper Room *
* Keep Your Hand On The Plow *
* I'm Going To Live The Life I Sing About *