From the start she thought big. Everyone knows that her inspiration was Bessie Smith-though she could also speak shrewdly about the other blues women of the 1920s. She is famous for saying that someone singing the blues dwells in a deep pit, and she was “simply” not in that condition. On the other hand, in 1952, she told S. I. Hayakawa that people kept saying she was “better than Bessie,” so she knew the vocal resemblance was a marketing tool. (It cannot be stressed enough how much she was a business-woman! In perhaps her first performance before a secular crowd, she described Move On Up a Little Higher as “the first spiritual, real spiritual out of the church” to hit the pop charts, which in fact it wasn’t. Then she added, “which sold 3 million,” a considerable inflation, since the record was never certified gold.) And well into the 1950s, her friend Willie Webb would hold birthday parties for “Halie,” in which his latest discoveries-and they included Alex Bradford and Albertina Walker-would recreate her favorite blues. Bradford remembered her asking for You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon But You Done Broke Down.
Shanachie Entertainment Celebrates
The Queen Of Gospel – Mahalia Jackson
With Riveting New Recording Moving On Up A Little Higher
This Ultimate Collection is Mahalia’s First Album With New Material
in 40 Years & Features 22 Previously Unreleased Masterpieces!
(Release Date 9.30.16)
Forty-five years after Mahalia Jackson’s passing she remains the world’s most famous gospel singer. The Grammy and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was on hand to sing before and after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark “I Have A Dream” Speech at the historic March on Washington, and has influenced everyone from Aretha Franklin to Mavis Staples. September 30, 2016, Shanachie Entertainment will release the definitive Mahalia collection featuring 22 previously unreleased masterpieces recorded between 1946 and 1957. Moving On Up A Little Higher is the first Mahalia Jackson recording featuring new material in four decades. Produced by renowned Gospel scholar and award-winning author Anthony Heilbut (The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times and The Fan Who Knew Too Much), this definitive collection reveals the iconic singer’s voice in its full glory, capturing tones huge and small, stadium filling and pianissimo. There are moments of rhythmic freedom and play that will be a revelation to even her devout fans. The breath-taking and exhilarating performances culled for this set allow for a broader sense of Mahalia Jackson’s musical scope and development.
Highlights on Moving On Up A Little Higher include Mahalia’s recreations of the first songs she learned, the Dr. Watts hymns, from which derived her magical melisma. The CD also features two of her most significant concerts: a 1951 symposium that introduced her to a larger, interracial audience and a landmark 1957 Newport Jazz Festival performance. Moving On Up A Little Higher captures two spectacular live versions of Mahalia’s first and greatest hit, Move On Up a Little Higher, each one devastating and totally unlike the other. The quintessential set also includes the only known recording of Mahalia accompanied by Thomas A. Dorsey, the musician who first introduced her to the Gospel Highway. The collectors item contains an illustrious 23-page booklet written by Anthony Heilbut that includes detailed history, behind the scenes anecdotes and rare and precious photographs.
Excerpt from Liner Notes written by Anthony Heilbut who was also Marion William’s long-time producer and who has released several of Williams’ recordings on Shanachie including ‘Packin’ Up: The Very Best Of Marion Williams.’
Within her 59 years (she was born in 1912, not the more commonly reported 1911), Mahalia became a protean figure, representing both gospel music and her race, as no other singer had done before. Indeed, by the early 1960s, according to Harry Belafonte, she had become the most famous black woman in America. Her origins were very humble, reared in poverty, a motherless child, more familiar with her aunts than with her father or siblings. She left school early, and never outgrew the speech patterns of her youth; even within the gospel music field, her New Orleans drawl was conspicuous, and jealous rivals often ridiculed her down-home diction, along with her-admittedly erratic-time sense. Of course, it was this combination of raw amateurism and a world-class voice that made her so appealing. (Had she exhibited more vocal control, she might have seemed too grand or “seditty.” Had her voice been less spectacular, she would have seemed just another gospel shouter).
In fact her life was filled with the blues as we know it. Her marriage to Ike Hackenhull, a Chicago gambler, ended badly, in part because he wanted her to sing secular music, show-tunes and light opera, and not “whoop and holler” in storefront churches. Though, to be fair, his mother bequeathed a batch of hair-conditioning formulas that helped make her one of the South Side’s top beauticians. Mahalia loved food, loved men, occasionally liked a nip (and some of the greatest singers would be her drinking buddies). Her bawdy sense of humor would have matched Ma Rainey’s. And she was famously unlucky in love. During the fifties, she particularly fancied a pastor, who preferred her singing rival Clara Ward. During the 1960s, her second marriage to a very handsome musician, Minters Sigmund Galloway, several years her junior, ended in a lurid divorce trial, filled with reports of infidelity and spousal abuse. The ensuing scandal, quite as much as her bad health, contributed to her early death.
And there’s a blues symmetry to what happened next: within a few months, both her husbands had died as well.
1. KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW – 2:28
2. DARK WAS THE NIGHT AND COLD THE GROUND – 3:07
3. JESUS MET THE WOMAN AT THE WELL – 3:18
4. TROUBLES OF THE WORLD – 6:45
5. DIDN’T IT RAIN (arr. Roberta Martin) – 3:58
6. I’M GOING TO LIVE THE LIFE I SING ABOUT IN MY SONG
(Thomas A. Dorsey) – 3:08
7. IN THE UPPER ROOM (Lucie Campbell) – 2:37
8. WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN – 2:45
9. MOVE ON UP A LITTLE HIGHER (Rev. W. Herbert Brewster) – 5:18
10. HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW – 4:03
11. BEFORE THIS TIME ANOTHER YEAR – 3:23
12. THERE’S BEEN A GREAT CHANGE IN ME (arr. Doris Akers) – 3:04
13. HE’S PLEADING IN GLORY FOR ME (Robert Anderson, Elyse Yancey) –2:40
14. HAVE A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS (Cleavant Derricks) – 2:19
15. I CANNOT MAKE THIS JOURNEY BY MYSELF (Cleavant Derricks) –3:13
16. I’M GLAD SALVATION IS FREE – 3:36
17. SAVIOR MORE THAN LIFE TO ME (arr. Alex Bradford) – 3:51
19. CHILDHOOD CHURCH MEMORIES (“Father I Stretch My Hand to Thee”) – 3:57
18. THE REUNION WITH THOMAS A. DORSEY (Thomas A. Dorsey) – 3:17
20. BEAMS OF HEAVEN – 3:34
21. WHEN THE ROLL WILL BE CALLED IN HEAVEN – 1:39
22. GETTING HAPPY IN CHICAGO (Rev. W. Herbert Brewster) – 1:40
All selections previously unissued