In 1931, Thomas Dorsey organized one of the first gospel choirs at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago. Mahalia Jackson became one of the members of his choir.
Jackson is often referred to as the ‘Queen' of gospel music and was widely regarded as the world's best gospel singer. Her career lasted over 20 years and she sang for audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Jackson even performed at an inaugural party for John F. Kennedy as well as at the funeral of Martin Luther King.
Mahalia Jackson had a deep faith and considered her music as worship, rather than just entertainment. As such, she would read the Bible backstage before going on to sing. Jackson once told a minister who was critical of her musical style:
"I was born to sing gospel music. Nobody had to teach me. I was serving God. I told him I had been reading the Bible almost every day of my life and there was a Psalm that said: ‘O clap your hands all ye people! Shout unto the Lord with a voice of a trumpet!' Psalms 47.1-5
If it was undignified, it was what the Bible told me to do."