Mahalia Jackson, The Queen of Gospel Music, was born in New Orleans in 1912 and moved to Chicago at an early age. She absorbed the sounds of blues singers Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, but it was the church to whom she pledged her allegiance. She began singing gospel in the 1920s at Chicago's Greater Salem Baptist Church and performing with Prince Johnson Gospel Singers. By the late 1930s she had begun recording as a solo artist, and in the early '40s she toured with the great Thomas Dorsey. As illustrated by "Move On Up a Little Higher," her incredible melisma and charismatic performing style influenced the young Aretha Franklin among many others. Jackson died of heart failure in 1972 at age 59.
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