A variety of superstars gathered to mourn for Mahalia Jackson, whose funeral was held today (January 31, 1972).
The legendary gospel singer had checked herself into a hospital on January 19, the due to an intestinal condition.
During her legendary 45-year career, Mahalia Jackson recorded a number of legendary gospel songs including “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “Move On Up a Little Higher,” “How I Got Over,” and others.
Mahalia Jackson was born on October 26, 1911, in New Orleans.
Jackson grew up in an area of poor section of New Orleans, surrounded by artists surrounded by the music of artists like Ma Rainey, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong.
She first became noticed as a singer at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in New Orleans
By the time she was 15-years-old, Mahalia Jackson had gained fame as a singer in churches throughout the area.
After a move to Chicago, she began to make her mark at Chicago’s Greater Salem Baptist Church.
In 1929, she met the “Father of Gospel Music,” Thomas A . Dorsey.
Dorsey became Mahalia Jackson’s mentor, and over the next 14 years of touring, she became famous singing a number of Dorsey’s songs.
In 1947, Mahalia Jackson signed with the Apollo record label and released her popular single “Move on Up A Little Higher,” which sold over 8 million copies.
As an artist on the Apollo record label, Mahalia Jackson recorded a number of popular sides including “Amazing Grace,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” and “His Eye is On The Sparrow.”
In 1950, she was the first gospel singer to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall and by the 1960′s, Mahalia Jackson was singing for President John F Kennedy, as well as Martin Luther King Jr.
Mahalia Jackson sang at the legendary March on Washington in 1963, in front of 250,000 people, just before Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Mahalia Jackson toured Europe extensively throughout the 1960′s, and by the early 1970′s she had retired from her life on the road.
The singer had been in declining health in the previous years and had been forced to cancel a tour of Germany in 1971, due to a heart ailment.
On January 27, Mahalia Jackson died alone, from heart disease, at the age of 60-years-old.
Over the course of two days, almost 60,000 people in Chicago filed past Mahalia Jackson’s casket, to pay their respects to “The World’s Greatest Gospel singer.”