Mahalia Jackson’s Boundless Voice Continues to Amaze

On new unreleased collections, the singer shows how sacred music helped shaped the sounds of R&B and rock’n’roll.

Courtesy of Shanachie Entertainment


Mahalia Jackson
Moving On Up a Little Higher
Shanachie

The Great Television Performances
Real Gone Music

Courtesy of Shanachie Entertainment

More that 40 years after her passing, the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson continues to amaze. Her big, passionate, and boundless voice is a wonder of nature that can elevate the spirit of believers and nonbelievers alike. Collecting 22 previously unreleased performances from 1946 to 1957, Moving On Up a Little Higher is a fine introduction for new fans and a treat for longtime admirers. Unleashing her titanic talents with minimal accompaniment, or singing a capella, Jackson revisits her classic “Move On Up a Little Higher” and elsewhere teams with gospel pioneer Thomas A. Dorsey on their only known recording together; other highlights include the tender “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and the window-rattling “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song.” Settings vary from intimate church gatherings to big events like the Newport Jazz Festival, and sound quality ranges from sparkling to adequate (though still listenable), but it’s all wonderful.

“Didn’t It Rain,” a toe-tapping highlight of Moving On Up a Little Higher, also appears on The Great Television Performances, collecting 16 newly released tracks from 1961. This exhilarating set captures Jackson at her most polished and accessible, backed by an efficient small group that includes jazz greats Barney Kessel (guitar) and Shelley Manne (drums). Reaching out to listeners who may not have known about, or cared about, gospel per se, she shows how sacred music helped shaped the sounds of R&B and rock’n’roll. Hallelujah!

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate