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All this month we have been celebrating our contributions in music..Today we shine the spotlight on Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson October 26, 1911– January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”.Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”.She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen “golds”—million-sellers.

“I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free,” Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, “It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.”

Jackson died in Chicago on January 27, 1972 of heart failure and diabetes complications. Two cities paid tribute, Chicago and New Orleans. Beginning in Chicago, outside the Greater Salem Baptist Church, 50,000 people filed silently past her mahogany, glass-topped coffin in final tribute to the queen of gospel song. The next day, as many as could – 6,000 or more – filled every seat and stood along the walls of the city’s public concert hall, the Arie Crown Theater of McCormick Place, for a two-hour funeral service. Mahalia’s pastor, the Rev. Leon Jenkins, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Mrs. Coretta Scott King eulogized Mahalia during the Chicago funeral as “a friend – proud, black and beautiful”. Sammy Davis, Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald paid their respects. Dr. Joseph H. Jackson, president of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., delivered the eulogy at the Chicago funeral. Aretha Franklin closed the Chicago rites with a moving rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand“.

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biography courtesy of Wikipedia.com

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