Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord! Analysis

Jesse Jackson

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord! The Life of Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel Singers, Jesse Jackson tells the story of the life of the renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. The twenty-one chapters relay her life, from the earliest days in the slums of New Orleans to success and triumph as a nationally acclaimed singer and supporter of the Civil Rights movement. Eight pages of photographs, grouped together, capture in visual form the exuberance and intensity of Jackson.

In Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord!, the author often uses the titles of gospel songs to mark the chapter headings and the singer’s life stages. He depicts Jackson’s early life as poor in material possessions but rich in the love of extended family and awash in the street music of the early days of jazz, blues, and gospel songs. In the first chapter, “Little Girl with a Big Voice,” five-year-old Jackson auditions for and wins a much coveted place in the Mount Moriah Church choir. The song that she chose for this audition, “Been in the Grave and Rose Again,” is also the title of the second chapter, which relays the story of the death of the child’s mother.

Each chapter conveys Jackson’s resolute determination to better herself and to work as hard as needed to achieve this goal. After her mother’s death, she was reared by an aunt and uncle. Against their protests, she left New Orleans at the age of sixteen to pursue a career in nursing...

(The entire section is 597 words.)