Mahalia Jackson Begins Her Recording Career (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Mahalia Jackson launched a recording career that included a contract with Columbia Records and popularity that transcended racial lines, bringing black gospel music into the mainstream.
Summary of Event
On October 3, 1946, Mahalia Jackson made her first gospel recordings for the New York label Apollo. Her first two singles for the label did not sell well, but in 1947 she recorded a song that went on to sell a million copies. “Move on Up a Little Higher” covered both sides of the record. It had been written by the Reverend W. Herbert Brewster, a well-known Memphis preacher and songwriter. The song put Jackson on her way to national prominence.
Other Apollo recordings in the next eight years sold well, and Jackson became in demand nationwide as a leading exponent of the newer gospel songs. She became the official soloist of the National Baptist Convention, a black church, and was a popular figure on Studs Terkel’s radio program in Chicago, where she lived. Terkel had always had an ear for folk, blues, and gospel music and found Jackson to be one of the finest singers and interpreters, with her rich and strong contralto voice. Her outgoing personality and deep knowledge of black culture and musical roots made her a local favorite when she appeared on Terkel’s television show in the early 1950’s. In the segregated America of that time, her artistry still was confined mainly to...
(The entire section is 2309 words.)
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