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Mahalia Jackson: An Evening Prayer (Newport, 1958)

Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:17 am

I listened to this for the first time tonight in a very long while. It's very strange listening to Mahalia Jackson's 1958 Newport appearance now that my Dad is no longer here. He was in the Navy at the time, and heard Jackson for the first time at this very concert. Quite what Dad, who really didn't like jazz (to put it mildly), was doing at the Newport Jazz Festival is anybody's guess! Either way, the concert had quite an effect and, despite being vehemently non-religious throughout his life (even more so than me), he fell in love with this type of gospel singing and continued to do so until he passed away earlier this year.

Jackson's performance in the concert is a remarkably intense, even difficult, listening experience when heard in full on an album, but to have been there and experience that remarkable passion at first-hand must have been something very special. It's clear that Jackson's recording of An Evening Prayer was the one that influenced Elvis, and it was her opening number at the Newport concert (assuming the running order wasn't altered for LP release).

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Re: Mahalia Jackson: An Evening Prayer (Newport, 1958)

Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:00 pm

I hadn't listened to this in a while, either -- but it's a marvellous performance. Mahalia at her finest, in many ways, and although reserved, the power here is in her respect for the lyric and the sincerity of her vocal. It's easy to appreciate that this may have influenced Elvis's own, fairly good, version of An Evening Prayer. The idea of Elvis and Mahalia recording, or performing, together is a most delicious and intriguing prospect.