Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson
Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times

Stars

Mahalia Jackson
Music: South side of the 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Singer
Born Oct. 26, 1911 in New Orleans, LA
Died Jan. 27, 1972 in Chicago, Ill.

Singer Mahalia Jackson's soulful renditions of gospel music thrilled fans the world over, including presidents and European royalty.

Jackson first won fame as a gospel singer in the choir at Greater Salem Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side during the 1940s.

Among her earliest hit recordings were "I Can Put My Trust in Jesus," "In the Upper Room," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and "Move on Up a Little Higher." Her rendition of "Even Me, Lord" in 1947 sold more than a million records.

Born Oct. 26, 1911 in New Orleans, she was the daughter of a stevedore who doubled as a Baptist preacher. Her mother died when she was 6. As a young girl, Jackson worked as a nursemaid, scrubbed floors and packed dates in a factory.

Her earliest musical influence was blues singer Bessie Smith, whose recording of "Careless Love" was a favorite of Jackson's.

Despite Smith's influence, Jackson never sang blues or jazz, only gospel. She once said to Duke Ellington, who tried unsuccessfully to get her to record jazz with his band, "Duke, my music is the music of the Lord."

Her career was marked by appearances before European royalty. She toured the continent extensively and made five concert appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1960, Jackson sang the national anthem at the inauguration of President Kennedy.

Although she was already widely known as a gospel singer, Jackson's fame increased during the civil rights movement. Jackson and Harry Belafonte were especially close to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jackson sang King's favorite hymn "Precious Lord" at funeral services for the assassinated civil rights leader in 1968.

She died at age 60.

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