This week — Wednesday to be specific — would have been the 100th birthday of the great Mahalia Jackson, whom I would rate as one of the top five American performers of the 20th century. Her voice, presence and passion are startling, putting in the shade even such remarkable artists as Aretha Franklin, to whom she is often compared.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A voice like hers comes along once in a millennium.” Personally, I can’t listen to performances this one without the hairs on my arms rising. It’s been a hundred years since Mahalia showed up on this planet, and I don’t imagine we’ll see her equal in a hundred more.
– Jay Bookman