Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia


Release Date:  4/3/21; Lifetime
Genre:  Biography
Rating:  Unknown
Director:  Kenny Leon
Studio(s):  Rock’n Robin Productions, Lincoln Square Productions
Running Time:  TBA

Cast:  The TV movie stars Tony Award nominee, SAG, and Grammy Award winning actress Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) as the legend and civil rights trailblazer.  Brooks is joined by an impressive list of Broadway stars including Tony nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Slave Play), Jason Dirden (Fences), Olivia Washington (The Butler) and Rob Demery (Lovecraft Country).  Dirden stars as Russell Roberts, the Reverend who falls for Mahalia when they first meet in the late 1940s while Kalukango takes on the role of Mildred, Mahalia’s talented and opinionated long-time pianist.  Washington portrays Estelle, a piano teacher Mahalia meets at church who goes on to become her life-long friend, and Demery stars as the influential civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Story:  The upcoming biopic Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia Jackson — the first project produced under a partnership between anchor Robin Roberts and Lifetime — is a fictionalized retelling of 40 years in the life of one of the greatest gospel singers of all time, Mahalia Jackson, dubbed the Queen of Gospel.

Born in New Orleans, Mahalia Jackson began singing at an early age and went on to become one of the most revered gospel figures in United States history, merging her music with her work as a civil rights activist. Her recording of the song “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame.  She performed in diverse settings, including in front of a racially integrated audience at Carnegie Hall, as well as at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball.  An active supporter of the civil rights movement, Jackson sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in hopes that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality. She took centerstage at the historic march, where she not only performed as the lead-in to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but also played a direct role in turning that speech into one of the most memorable and meaningful in American history.

Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia Jackson will premiere Saturday, April 3, 2021, marking the 53rd year since Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968.  Source(s):  Photo Sources:


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