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Christmas Music Playlists with Mahalia Jackson Songs
Have A Very Special Gospel Christmas With Mahalia
Factfile - Mahalia Jackson
- In 1956 Sweet Little Jesus Boy was issued as an LP & 3-EP book. This was released on CD as Silent Night - Holy Night.
- Jackson had many Christmas single / EP releases including The Lord's Prayer / Silent Night (1950), Hallelujah (1955), Songs for Christmas (1956), White Christmas / Joy To the World (1967).
- Silent Night (Songs for Christmas) was first released in 1962. In 1966 it peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 chart.
- In 1968 Columbia released another Jackson Christmas gospel album, Christmas with Mahalia.
The Queen of Gospel music Mahalia Jackson was the voice of her generation, so much so that she sang at JFK’s inauguration. Jackson was the bearer of a singing voice that moved those who heard it to tears and her blistering recordings have meant that her legacy is felt as strongly today as when she was producing her classic records. One of those is surely her first Christmas album 'Sweet Little Jesus Boy' which came out in 1956. This album is one of deep devotion with Jackson’s emotive singing giving new depth to the carols we know so well. Although quite short, with only 10 tracks in all, you are left in no doubt as to the power of Mahalia’s contralto voice as the mostly subdued musical accompaniment makes way for her precisely judged words. As you’d expect from an album of sacred songs the album permeates a solemn exterior but Jackson lifts the mood with her expressive vocal tones. This is most obvious on her ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ which is perfectly judged and just waiting for a religious gathering to joyously join in on the devotion. ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ recalls the fabulous feeling of a traditional Christmas and right from the moment those early church bells toll you will be transported back to a different time.
Mahalia's second Christmas LP ‘Silent Night (Songs for Christmas)’ LP arrived in 1962 and the track listing was broadly the same as her 'Sweet Little Jesus Baby'. Once again a lone secular track featured (on ‘Sweet Little Jesus Baby’ it had been 'White Christmas') with Jackson painting a picture of the perfect Christmas scene. ‘Christmas Comes To Us All Once A Year’ retains the album’s slow march but it is lit up like a Christmas tree with flickering vignettes of festive delight. The album leaves the best track until last as the 5 minute plus transcendence of ‘Silent Night’ beguiles all within earshot. Again Jackson’s voice is mostly all there is but she pours so much emotion into her words that it will make you stop in your snow tracks. If you are looking for something to crown the perfect Christmas Eve experience then surely it is this.
Mahalia Jackson’s third and only other Christmas album, 1968's ‘Christmas With Mahalia’, very much followed in the footsteps of its predecessor with a distinctly religious bent save for a couple of secular numbers ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Silver Bells’. The production this time was probably a little more extravagant than the generally sparse arrangements on her first Christmas album. The song choices are for the most part familiar but if you haven’t heard Mahalia’s version of ‘The First Noel’, the especially ebullient ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ or ‘What Child Is This?’ then you probably haven’t felt the true intrinsic power of these age old carols. This time there were 2 secular numbers for Mahalia to interpret. On ‘Silver Bells’ she stepped into pop mode for as far as that wondrous voice would allow her, which produces a wonderfully ethereal experience. Her ‘White Christmas’ is even more intriguing as she slows down what is already an unhurried celebration of Christmas past. The result is a study in relaxation put to music, a head massage after another day of festive madness.
Christmas comes to us all once a year, Bringing forth much love and good cheer, Blearing snow from heaven above, Clothes our hearts like a blanket of love
Mahalia Jackson, Christmas Comes To Us All...
Mahalia Jackson Christmas Album & Single Covers