NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A celebration of the centennial of singer Mahalia Jackson's birth is putting the spotlight on Jackson's ties to New Orleans.
The city is celebrating Jackson's birth with a variety of concerts, plays, discussions and services next week, hoping to bring attention its impact on her life. Many people are unaware of the importance of the gospel singer's southern roots, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune said Wednesday.
Jackson was born in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton neighborhood Oct. 26, 1911 and was buried in Metairie's Providence Memorial Park following her death Jan. 27, 1972.
She moved to Chicago, where she began her career, when she was 16.
Noted jazz clarinetist Michael White, chair of the humanities department at Xavier University, said Jackson is probably the most identifiable woman ever to come out of New Orleans.
"Not only did she help to turn gospel music into an international, recognizable phenomena, but she also helped bring the spirit of New Orleans around the world," White told the newspaper.
White said Jackson's upbringing in New Orleans helped shape the gospel singer's style.
"A lot of the spirit of what she did came from there, more than Baptist churches at the time," White said. "She brought a lot of that emotion and spirit to a higher level in Baptist churches. All the moving and shouting and emotionalism of her performance ... at first, a lot of the Baptist churches, especially up north, thought that was too much."