At the microphone: Mauretta Heinzelmann
The Queen of Gospel is like a beacon for jazz singers: Mahalia Jackson, born 110 years ago in New Orleans. She sang early in her Baptist church, of which she remained a member, throughout her international career. Jackson’s singing was a service, a musical revelation and a political liberation at the same time: She raised her voice for Martin Luther King in Duke Ellington’s suite “Black, Brown and Beige” and in the late 1950s in Newport at the jazz festival.
Mahalia Jackson, as one of the great African American voices, paved the way for singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves, and of course for Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and Ray Charles. In 1961 the singer gave a legendary concert in the Hamburg music hall, which the NDR recorded. She died in 1972. Mahalia Jackson’s musical strength and self-confidence are still very relevant today. As an Afro-American voice since the beginning of jazz history, she is a pioneer like the other heroines of jazz (e.g. the blues singers), but rather shows that female creativity naturally helped to create jazz.