Mahalia Jackson, often regarded as the best in the history of the gospel music genre, was blessed with a rich, powerful voice. Although a devout Baptist, in her youth she also listened to secular sounds of such blues artists as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.
Yet during her entire life, both public and private, she was rooted in her gospel origins that she developed singing in church. Even after her musical career exploded when her first recorded success, “Move Up a Little Higher,” sold a million copies in 1947, Jackson never left her deep commitment to both her faith and gospel music. She refused to cross over to the pop field, despite substantial financial inducements.
During the course of a career that led to radio and TV appearances, the Newport Jazz Festival, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, induction into the Rock and Roll and Gospel Hall of Fames, and an invitation by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to sing at the March on Washington in 1963, Jackson was once and for always, a gospel singer. Many consider her the best that ever was. Despite her turning down numerous lucrative offers to record secular songs, the blessings flowed abundantly to her nonetheless.
The life and amazing career of Mahalia Jackson, provides an inspiring example of a person being blessed by sticking to what she believed in and making it her guiding light. As a result, she herself has become one of God's stars, bringing the Christian message to millions through her music to both black and white audiences in an age where integration was still in its infancy.