Mahalia Jackson was born on October 26, 1911, in New Orleans. Jackson’s mother died when she was just four and she had to leave school in the fourth grade to help out at home. She had music though and sang at church.
In the late 1920s, Jackson moved to Chicago, where she sang and performed with church choirs and began recording in the 1930s. Her first big hit was “Move Up a Little Higher” in 1947, which sold a million copies and led to radio and television appearances, a tour in Europe, and a gospel music show on CBS.
Jackson also lent her powerful voice to the civil rights movement. The Queen of Gospel sang at Selma, Alabama, the March on Washington, and at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mahalia Jackson passed away in 1972 at 60 years old.