16 October 1911, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 27 January 1972, Evergreen Park, Illinois, USA. For many commentators, Mahalia Jackson remains the definitive exponent of gospel music. At the age of four she sang at the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church and later joined the Mount Moriah Baptist Church junior choir. She mixed the singing styles of the Baptists with the Sanctified Church, which produced a powerful rhythm and beat, and fell under the influence of gospel artists Roberta Martin and Willie Mae Ford Smith. Coupled with the expressions of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, which in her teens Jackson had begun to observe, she developed the beginnings of a deep soulful blues style. In 1927, Mahalia moved from New Orleans to Chicago; after her first Sunday church service, where she had given a impromptu performance of her favourite song, Hand Me Down My Favourite Trumpet, Gabriel, she was invited to join the Greater Salem Baptist Church Choir and began...
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