Mahalia Jackson was born into a preacher's family in
1911, and she grew up in a riverfront shanty in New
Orleans. She was motherless at five, working as a maid
and loudness in her mid-teens. As a little girl, she
would whisper to herself before she went to sleep,
"someday the sun is going to shine down on me in
some faraway place." In pursuit of that dream, Mahalia
migrated to Chicago when she was still a teenager.
She never expected to support herself by singing, and
by the time I joined her, the hands she used so
expressively in her performances had scrubbed floors,
laundered and helped her earn a living as a hotel maid,
factory worker, beautician and florist. But her
remarkable voice brought her more and more
invitations to sing-at funerals, in churches, at concerts.
And, through her warm friendly personality and a life
based on sound spiritual values and hard work, she
eventually found her place in the sun.