Mahalia Jackson would not only open the world’s ears to gospel music, she would make history with her music. In 1950, Jackson became the first gospel singer to ever perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. Soon after, she began touring in Europe and signed with Columbia Records in 1954. That same year, she recorded a radio series for CBS. Her mainstream success helped propel the gospel music genre into the spotlight. No one had heard such pure talent solely dedicated to God. In 1961, she sang at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball.
(Photo: Courtesy The DuSable Museum of African American History)