Born to a poor family in 1911 in New Orleans, Mahalia Jackson grew up singing in her father's church--and soaking up the blues and jazz for which that city is so famous in the process. By the late 1920s she was in Chicago, where (according to this CD's liner notes) her distinctly jazz and blues-inflected singing style nearly got her thrown out of the Greater Salem Baptist Church. But Mahalia persevered, and in the early 1950s a series of radio and television broadcasts launched her first to national and then international acclaim.
Some thirty years after her death in 1972, she is still considered the single greatest gospel singer America has ever produced--and while nothing short of a box set can really do this singer justice, this particular CD offers a very fine sampling of her work. Opening with the short, up-tempo "God Put A Rainbow In The Sky," the collection includes such classic spirituals as "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho" and such delicately performed classics as "His Eye is on the Sparrow"--and I simply defy any one of any faith not to break into a wide grin when the great Mahalia launches into such knock-you-flat songs as "Walkin' in Jerusalem."
Although she clearly influenced such later singers as Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson's voice is like none other, a great bell that rings sound from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. An extraordinary artist by any standard, Mahalia Jackson was and simply is the great voice of gospel music--and even if you're not a fan of gospel, you'll be a fan of Mahalia Jackson before the recording ends. Greatly recommended.