Mahalia Jackson is one of the most important figures in the founding of gospel music. Although her career was launched in Chicago her earliest musical influences were New Orleans funeral marches, blues, jazz, swing, and the hymns of the holiness churches she attended as a child. The sounds of New Orleans were perfectly suited for the gospel blues Jackson helped to establish in early twentieth century Chicago. Reading back into Jackson's archive, this essay explores the intersections of race, religion, music, space, and place in a way that illuminates the “sanctified swing” heard in Jackson's music. In “Didn’t It Rain” she and longtime accompanist Mildred Falls re-consecrate the devastated and deserted community after the flood. Conjuring Mahalia on this commemorative occasion reveals the sacred interplay between artist, audience, and event amid the limitations of state power, national belonging, and politics of citizenship, which privilege some subjects and neglect others.


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pp. 649-669
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