Mahalia Jackson -


About Mahalia Jackson

With a powerful and distinct voice, Mahalia Jackson has become one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and is the first Queen of Gospel Music. She recorded about 35 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds"—million-sellers.


Nicknamed "Halie" Mahalia  grew up in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana.  Growing up, Halie loved to sing and church is where she loved to sing the most. Halie’s Aunt Bell told her that one day she would sing in front of royalty, a prediction that would eventually come true.

At the age of sixteen, Jackson moved from the south to Chicago , Illinois , in the midst of the Great Migration. After her first Sunday church service, where she had given an impromptu performance of her favorite song, "Hand Me Down My Favorite Trumpet, Gabriel", she was invited to join the Greater Salem Baptist Church Choir. She began touring the city's churches and surrounding areas with the Johnson Gospel Singers, one of the earliest professional gospel groups.

In 1929 Jackson met the composer Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel Music. He gave her musical advice, and in the mid-1930s they began a fourteen-year association of touring, with Jackson singing Dorsey's songs in church programs and at conventions. His "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" became her signature song.

At age 26, Mahalia's second set of records were recorded on May 21, 1937 under the Decca Coral label.  In 1947 she signed up with the Apollo label, and in 1948 recorded the William Herbert Brewster song "Move On Up A Little Higher", a recording so popular that stores could not stock enough copies of it to meet demand, selling an astonishing eight million copies.  The song was later honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.


Other recordings received wide praise, including: "Let the Power of the Holy Ghost Fall on Me" (1949), which won the French Academy's Grand Prix du Disque; and "Silent Night, Holy Night", which became one of the best-selling singles in the history of Norway. When Jackson sang "Silent Night" on Denmark 's national radio, more than twenty thousand requests for copies poured in. Other recordings on the Apollo label included "He Knows My Heart" (1946), "Amazing Grace" (1947), "Tired" (1947), "I Can Put My Trust in Jesus" (1949), "Walk with Me" (1949), "Let the Power of the Holy Ghost Fall on Me" (1949), "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1950), "The Lord's Prayer" (1950), "How I Got Over" (1951), "His Eye is on the Sparrow" (1951), "I Believe" (1953), "Didn't It Rain" (1953), "Hands of God" (1953), and "Nobody Knows" (1954).

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences created the Gospel Music or Other Religious Recording category for Mahalia making her the first Gospel Music Artist to win the prestigious Grammy Award.  She was a close friend of Doris Akers, one of the most prolific gospel composers of the 20th century. In 1958, they co-wrote the hit, "Lord, Don't Move The Mountain". Mahalia also sang many of Akers' own compositions such as, "God Is So Good To Me", "God Spoke To Me One Day", "Trouble", "Lead On, Lord Jesus", and "He's A Light Unto My Pathway", helping Doris to secure her position as the leading female Gospel composer of that time.

In addition to sharing her singing talent with the world, she mentored the extraordinarily gifted Aretha Franklin.


Mahalia Jackson is widely regarded as the greatest gospel singer in history and one of the great voices of the twentieth century. Her music was never played widely on any but traditional gospel and traditional Christian radio stations. Her music was heard for decades on Family Radio. Her good friend Martin Luther King Jr said, "A voice like hers comes along once in a millennium."