H I C A G O
R I B U T E
In 1928, Jackson became a member of the Johnson Gospel Singers, one of the
first professional gospel groups in America. Refusing to sing in nightclubs,
she started her own businesses, Mahalias Beauty Salon and Mahalias
House of Flowers. In the 1930s, she began a long association with composer
Thomas A. Dorsey that catapulted her into gospel music stardom. Her 1947
recording of Move on Up a Little Higher became the first top-selling
gospel song, earning her the title Queen of Gospel Music.
style and powerful performance technique carried her to stardom while at
the same time raising the status of gospel music in the United States. Her
ability to evoke deep emotion with her warm contralto voice attracted wide
praise. In 1961, she sang at President John F. Kennedys inaugural
ball, and her solo performance set the tone at the March on Washington for
civil rights in 1963.
Mahalia Jackson bought
the house at 8358 South Indiana Avenue in 1956. Although her recordings
sold millions of copies and she performed for presidents, prime ministers
and royalty, she remained a sincere and affable person, surprised and touched
by the breadth of her success. In her words, I love singing. Period.