Mahalia Jackson

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Mahalia Jackson

Also Known As: "Hattie"
Birthplace: New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
Death: January 27, 1972 (60)
Evergreen Park, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Place of Burial: Metairie, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John A Jackson, Sr. and Charity Jackson
Ex-wife of Isaac Hockenhull and Sigmund Galloway
Sister of Roosevelt Hunter Jackson; Wilmon Jackson; Edna Jackson; Pearl Jackson and John A Jackson, Jr.
Half sister of Yvonne Esteen

Occupation: Gospel Singer
Managed by: Patricia Ann Clark
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mahalia Jackson

Find a Grave

Birth: c. Oct. 26, 1911 New Orleans Orleans Parish Louisiana, USA

Death: Jan. 27, 1972 Evergreen Park Cook County Illinois, USA

Gospel performer and singer who had a powerful and expressive contralto voice. Her concerts and recordings gained worldwide recognition for African-American religious music. Her singing combined powerful vitality with dignity and strong religious beliefts. She disliked being identified with nonreligious music, though her singing style revealed the influence of jazz. Mahalia Jackson, the third of six children was born in poverty in a three-room "shot-gun" shack in New Orleans, Louisana in 1911. Her father John A. Jackson, was a stevedore, barber and minister and her mother Charity Clark (who died when Mahalia was five) was a maid and laundress. Early in her life Mahalia Jackson absorbed the conservative music tradition of hymn singing at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church, where her family worshipped, and she was also attracted to the strong rhythms and emotional abandon evident in the music of a near by Holiness church. In addition, she was inspired by the secular music all around her, including jazz. Mahalia dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help support the family. As a teenager she moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with a aunt and she begin singing professionally with the choir of the Greater Salem Baptist Church (where she became a member) and with the Johnson Gospel Singers, one of the first professional touring gospel groups. In 1934 she received $25 for her first recording, "God's Gonna Seperate the Wheat from the Tares." At that time however, music was just a sideline for Mahalia who worked as a laundress (washing clothes for a $1 a day), studied beauty culture at Madam C.J. Walker's and at the Scott Institute of Beauty Culture. She soon opened her own beauty shop, the first of her sevral business ventures. It was in 1929 that Mahalia met the composer Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music and in the mid 1930's they began a fourteen-year association of touring, with Mahalia singing Dorsey's songs at church programs and at conventions. In 1936 Mahalia married Issac Hockenhull, a college-educated entrepreneur who tried to persuade her to abandon her church singing so that she could earn more money performing blues and popular music. She refused, and the marriage ended in divorce, as did a later marriage, to the muscian Sigmond Galloway. In 1946 she recorded her signature song "Move On Up a Littler Higher," which sold 100,000 copies and eventually passed the one million mark. By 1947 Mahalia had become the official soloist of the National Baptist Convention. Mahalia's other multi-million sellers included "In the Upper Room" (1952), "Didn't It Rain" (1958), "Even Me" and "Silent Night" which further extended her fame. She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career. Mahalia also appeared in the movies Imitation of Life, St. Louis Blues, The Best Man and I Remember Chicago. By the mid-1950's Mahalia had her own shortlived radio and television shows in Chicago and appeared frequently on national programs. During this time she also owned a flower shop in Chicago and toured as a concert artist, appearing more frequently in concert halls and less often in churches. In 1950 she became the first gospel singer to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall, and in 1958 the first to sing at the Newport Jazz Festival. Mahalia also performed in 1961 at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration and stirred a large audience with "How I Got Over" at the famous 1963 March on Washington. She first toured Europe in 1952, and was hailed by critics as the world's greatest gospel singer. In Paris she was called the Angel of Peace, and throughout the continent she sang to capacity auidences. She toured Europe again in 1962 and 1963-64, and in 1970 she performed in Africa, Japan, and India. Mahalia devoted much of her time and energy to helping others. She was also commited to civil rights her entire life and established the Mahalia Jackson Scholarship Foundation for young people who wanted to attend college. For her efforts in helping international understanding she received the Silver Dove Award. Mahalia had a spectacular singing career, winning several Grammys, including two awarded posthumously: one for her life achievement (1972) and for the album How I Got Over (1976). Mahalia Jackson died at age 60 in Chicago in Jan. of 1972 where she had lived for 45 years and became the greatest single success in gospel music. 50, 000 mourners filed past her mahagony, glass-topped coffin at the Greater Salem Baptist Church in tribute and 6,000 or more filled every seat and stood along the walls of the Arie Crown Theater of McCormick Place in Chicago, for her funeral which was more of a gospel music celebration than a funeral. Celebrities from all over the country attended and R&B singer Aretha Franklin paid tribute by singing "Precious Lord." Three days later in her home town of New Orleans, the scene repeated itself with thousands paying tribute, this time at the great hall of Rivergate Convention Center. Twenty four limousines later drove to Providence Memorial Park where Mahalia Jackson was finally entombed. Through her recordings she lives and leaves behind a glorious legacy- truly joyful sound. She will always be the uncontested queen of gospel music. (bio by: Curtis Jackson 🖋 📚 💻)

Cause of death: Heart ailment

Burial: Providence Memorial Park Metairie Jefferson Parish Louisiana, USA

Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 535

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Mahalia Jackson's Timeline

October 26, 1911
New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
January 27, 1972
Age 60
Evergreen Park, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Providence Memorial Park, Metairie, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States