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Life of Mahalia Jackson Immortalized on Film

Contact: Gregory Gay, 312-933-3582


MEDIA ADVISORY, May 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- No one exemplifies the world of gospel like Mahalia Jackson, its first superstar, who brought gospel to a secular audience with greater success than any other artist in the field.

Plans are in the works to bring Mahalia's life story to the big screen. In addition a big celebration is being during the month of October commemorating her 95th birthday. The festivities will take place in Chicago, her home of 45 years.

Joyful Noise, LLC, the Chicago production company behind the proposed movie, believes her story will appeal to audiences of all color, ethnicity and age who admire stories of heroic people who have overcome obstacles and achieved great prominence.

“Mahalia!” will depict her early struggles to use her “gift from God” to sing for His glory in storefront churches and street corners, traveling the gospel circuit as a song plugger for Thomas Dorsey, the father of gospel music, during the Depression, her ultimate ascension to the pinnacle of success, her two failed marriages, and resisting the constant, lucrative offers to sing and jazz.

As a motherless child, impoverished child from the bayous, a “suds buster” and maid, she was honored and humbled to sing at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and for royalty and heads of state. Japanese audiences lined up for blocks waiting to buy a ticket to her performances.

“One of the great tragedies,” noted Jerry Butler, “is that a lot of people today will never experience what Mahalia was able to do to an audience, just standing and singing with a piano. It was a marvelous thing.”

Funding is underway to produce “Mahalia!” in Chicago, her home of 45 years, where her church, Greater Salem, and other great churches and auditoriums in which she sang still stand amid the changing city landscape.

While a major star has not as yet been signed, two excellent actors have been attached to the movie: Chicago resident Irma P. Hall and Chicago native Harry Lennix. Hall will portray Hannah Robinson, the aunt who brought Mahalia to Chicago when she was 16. Lennix will play Mahalia’s first husband, Isaac “Ike” Hockenhull.

With unwavering faith and perseverance, Mahalia demonstrated “Living the Life I Sing about in My Song,” bringing inspiring gospel messages to millions of people throughout the world.