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Got to Tell it: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel Hardcover – September 10, 1992

1.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schwerin, a New York filmmaker, here presents an affectionate yet relatively candid portrayal of New Orleans-born contralto Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), whose career introduced and defined gospel music to white Americans. Set against a backdrop of the growing racial tensions of the 1950s and their explosion in the '60s, the book demonstrates Jackson's remarkable ability to cross boundaries of color on the sheer power of her voice. She is shown as an individual whose self-recognition of her immense talent led her to the pinnacle of egoism; driven by an insatiable need to acquire money and suspicious (at times justifiably) of promoters, she was often difficult to work with and felt comfortable only when surrounded by friends. "She wrestled with the two Mahalias she had become," writes Schwerin, who also rightly notes that her art provides a unique counterpoint to the political times in which she lived. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Jackson was largely responsible for popularizing black gospel music with white mainstream audiences through her concerts, recordings, and radio and TV appearances in the 1950s. The 1960s saw her as part of the vanguard of prominent African Americans in the struggle for civil rights. Author Schwerin first encountered Jackson in the mid-1950s while interviewing her for an Emmy award-winning documentary. The person he describes is a complex mixture of pride and suspicion, generosity and selfishness. Her status as one of the world's most loved performers could never block out the memories of her early years of poverty and prejudice in Louisiana. More of a reminiscence than a true biography, this book offers an intriguing glimpse into the life of an important figure in African American history.
- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd printing edition (September 10, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195071441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195071443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,783,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Schwerin apparently had a unique relationship with Mahalia Jackson, one that offered him insight into her actions and motivations. Unfortunately, he had his own agenda, and it seems to have precluded him from getting to the facts. For example, he comments on Mahalia's role in Imitation of Life, and one wonders whether he ever saw the movie. His inaccuracies make the reader question passages of the book about areas of her life that are not so well known by the public. His writing is careless.
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Format: Paperback
Mahalia Jackson was said to indeed be a very suspicious woman. That is why she had peculiar habits such as accepting cash only for performances. Even the author testifies to her distrust. Why therefore even if some of the things said were true I don't think that Mahalia would have revealed her faults and shortcomings to man whom she knew very little about. The book creates an evil picture of Mahalia. It would break the heart of any Mahalia Jackson fan. The author also claims to have been friendly with Mahalia's godson - Brother John Sellers, who was one of the interviewees for the book and who supposedly helped to degrade Mahalia. If Brother John did indeed love Halie like the mother he never had, I don't think that he would stoop so low as to want to defame her for the sake of a novel.
I do agree with the critic above who says that there are alot of wrong facts stated stated in the book. Here are some corrections that need to be made.
Mahalia was born in 1911.
Her mother had only sisters.
She went to Chicago at age 16.
Jules never mentioned Mahalia's first recording date in 1937 for Decca Records
She divorced her first husband in 1941
She toured Europe with Big Bill Broonzey in 1952 not 1955
She played herself in the movie, Imitation of Life - she was also in four other films.
She received her first Grammy Award in 1962
She received another in 1963, a Grammy Lifetime Acheivement Award in 1972 and another Grammy in 1976.
She did not start courting her second husband until the early 60's.
She did not perform in a Pink Organza gown in the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival - it was sea blue/turquoise with diamond-like sequins along her collar, center and cuffs of her sleeve.
There are other misinfo's that he is guilty of printing...shame on you Mr. Schwerin.
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