People we love: Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson, October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972

Born on this Day in 1911.

The Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson was one of the world’s most influential gospel singers and a civil rights activist. During her career, she recorded some 30 albums and her 45 rpm singles had a dozen million sellers.

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

Jackson played an important role in the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Jackson performed “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned” before Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. She also sang “Precious Lord” at his funeral in 1968.

Jackson died from heart failure and complications from diabetes on January 27, 1972. She was 60. Thousands paid tribute to her first in Chicago and again in New Orleans.

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