Publisher: Mott Media
Item #: N357
Level: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8
Born to Sing Gospel Music
Mahalia Jackson was a magnificent talent with her spellbinding contralto voice. She was deeply religious with a quest to help the underprivileged and the disadvantaged.
"Blues are the songs of despair," Mahalia often said. "Gospel songs belong to the Lord. Gospel songs are the songs of hope. When you sing gospel you have the feeling there is a cure for what's wrong, but when you are through with the blues you've got nothing to rest on."
Before each performance or recording session, Mahalia would sit quietly alone. In describing this time, she said, "I read selected passages from my Bible in order to gather to myself the inner strength I need." Her favorite Biblical quotation was "Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands" from Psalm 66. Mahalia saw this Psalm as her mission in life.
It was a mission that required a long, hard climb. But it was a mission she accomplished with enthusiasm. During the years of struggle, Mahalia became an internationally known recording artist and church performer.
However, Mahalia never forgot her humble beginnings. Her mother died when she was six and she was reared by a religious aunt who introduced her "to the joy and passion, sweetness and beauty of the Lord's hymns and anthems." Her father did not feel he could raise the six children alone. He preached on Sunday and doubled as a longshoreman and barber on week days. His time was taken with work. His income was low.