Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel.” Possessing a contralto voice she became one of the most influential gospel vocalists in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist.
On August 12, 2020, Deadline reported that Grammy-winning singer and actress Jill Scott will play the Queen of Gospel, in Mahalia!, a new big-screen take that’s being executive produced by Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, her partner Shakim Compere and Clark Sisters EP Holly Carter. Mahalia! is based on the novel Mahalia Jackson by Darlene Donloe. There is another Mahalia Jackson project in the works at Lifetime, but Mahalia! has secured the rights to Jackson’s entire musical catalog of hits including “How I Got Over,” “His Eyes Are on the Sparrow,” “Move on Up a Little Higher,” “Amazing Grace” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”
The Lifetime project, in partnership with journalist Robin Roberts, is titled, The Mahalia Jackson Story and will star Tony Award nominee, SAG and Grammy Award-winning actress Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) as the iconic gospel legend. Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct and Robin Roberts will executive produce alongside Linda Berman.
During a time when gospel music was not as mainstream as it is today, Jackson became one of the wealthiest and most powerful entertainers in the world, melding her music with the civil rights movement. Known as the mentor and inspiration behind Aretha Franklin, Jackson rose from brutal poverty in New Orleans to become a platinum-selling artist. She was the first gospel singer to perform in front of a racially integrated audience at the prestigious Carnegie Hall and would continue to captivate audiences around the world, including presidents, kings, and queens, until her death in 1972.
Known as the inspiration behind the “I Have a Dream” speech, she was one of the most instrumental voices and ardent supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. and was a driving force behind John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, and performed at his inaugural ball. An active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson sang at numerous rallies, in hopes that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality. Jackson’s story will continue to strengthen the need for more stories about Black legends that are often overlooked. Source(s): Essence; BET; Deadline. Photo Source(s): Shadow & Act; New York Daily News.com; Indiewire; fineartamerica.com.