MAHALIA JACKSON Biography - Musicians


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Name: Mahalia Jackson                                                                       
Born: 26 October 1911 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA                                           
Died: 27 January 1972 Evergreen Park, Illinois, USA                                         
Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911[1] - January 27, 1972) was an American gospel             
singer, widely regarded as the best in the history of the genre and was the                 
first "Queen of gospel". Mahalia Jackson became one of the most influential                 
gospel singers in the world. She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia               
Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds" million-sellers. 
Mahalia Jackson grew up in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton                         
neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. The three room dwelling on Pitt               
Street housed thirteen people. This included Mahalia, whom they affectionately               
called Halie for short after her aunt also named Mahalia, her brother                       
Roosevelt, whom they called Peter, and her mother Charity. Several aunts and                 
cousins lived in the house as well. Family members conferred upon the aunt the               
title of Aunt Duke. She was rewarded with the name because she held the title of             
being the boss of the family.                                                               
When Halie was born she suffered from a condition known as genu varum or what is             
commonly called "bowed legs." The doctors wanted to perform surgery by breaking             
Halie's legs, but one of the resident aunts would not hear of it. So Halie's                 
mother would rub her legs down with greasy dishwater. It never stopped young                 
Halie from performing her dance steps for the white woman her mother and Aunt               
Bell cleaned house for.                                                                     
When Mahalia was six, her mother Charity died. It was a terrible blow to the                 
family especially when the decision came as to who would keep Halie and her                 
brother Peter. Aunt Duke assumed this responsibility, and the children were                 
forced to work from sun-up to sun-down. Aunt Duke would always inspect the house             
using the "white glove" method. If the house was not cleaned properly, Halie                 
would be beaten with a "cat-o-nine-tails." If one of the other relatives was                 
unable to do their chores, or clean at their job, Halie or one of her cousins               
was expected to perform that particular task. School was hardly an option. 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. Halie would one day               
see that prediction of her aunts come true. Mahalia Jackson began her singing               
career at the local Mount Moriah Baptist Church. She was baptized in the                     
Mississippi by Mt. Moriah's pastor, the Rev. E. D. Lawrence, then went back to               
the church to "receive the right hand of fellowship."