Gospel fans have known for a long time, what a few more of us should know about. Namely, Mahalia Jackson. This album is stacked full of joyously testifying tunes and Mahalia with gives them all she's got. Her vocal style is at once hugely powerful but also refined and soulful. From the misery and regret of 'I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About' to the exuberance of 'Didn't It Rain' and 'When The Saints Go Marching In' , she lets us know that her faith is all about seeking forgiveness, trusting in God's love and fighting everyday against the encroachment of sin. Her faith is a journey through the travails of this World, made lighter by the beauty and meaning that she expresses so eloquently through her music. Her path is the one leading upward. All she wants to do is encourage us to join her. But because her performance is so committed it would be a stoney hearted listener indeed who could avoid being moved by her musical testimony.
So, 'Newport 1958' is as many reviewers have suggested is a classic album. For some the sound quality may be a little variable. Yes this is not an audiophile recording but it is very atmospheric and gives a real impression of what the audience must have heard that day. So, if you don 't mind listening to one of the greatest singers of all time amid a few enthusiastic hoots and holllahs then this disc is for you. Listen to Mahlia's take on 'Keep Your Hand on the Plow' or the bluesy narrative 'Jesus Met the Well' and be prepared to be overwhelmed. Recommended.