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From her first million seller in 1946 until her death in 1972 Mahalia Jackson (b. 1911) was the face
and voice of gospel music for millions around the world. These television appearances from 1957
to 1962 find her at her vocal and interpretive peak.
Many writers have felt that with her powerful voice, her wide vocal range and her way of phrasing, Mahalia Jackson could have been the greatest jazz and blues singer of her day. It was not to be. Mahalia remained true to her calling and would not sing secular music. As she points out in the 1957 interview included on this DVD, she would perform anywhere except nightclubs and theaters. This left the door open for a 1958 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in a gospel program, as well as her involvement with several of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. Interestingly enough, two numbers on this program originated in the world of musical theater: “Summertime” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” though they certainly satisfy Jackson’s requirement (also discussed in the interview) that a song needed to have a message of inspiration and hope for her to sing it. As Jackson interprets them, the songs take on a meaning beyond their original context, and assume their rightful place among the other pieces on the program to which Jackson brings her inimitable aura of spirituality and humanity.
Color/B&W, 48 minutes, 4:3, All regions
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