Mahalia Jackson
Montrew Dunham

Book cover image

Narrated By: Pam Ward

Duration: 1 hour and 54 minutes

What to expect

“Halie” Jackson grew up in poverty on the levees of New Orleans, hunting for alligators for food along the Mississippi River with her brother, Peter. But every Sunday young Mahalia sang proudly in the church choir, the youngest member at age five. She left school after eighth grade and worked as a maid to help support her family. However, her passion for singing her special brand of music known as “gospel” never waned.

Praised by parents, teachers, and historians, the Young Patriots Series is an ideal way to sweep today’s young listeners into history. The everyday details of family life, the time period in which they lived, what they wore, and the challenges they faced in school create a window through which children can access history. The early evidence of character, responsibility, ability, and courage showcase situations to which every child can relate.


Children’s / Teenage general interest: Biography and autobiography, Children’s / Teenage general interest: Music, Children’s / Teenage general interest: Biography and autobiography, Children’s / Teenage general interest: History and the past, Children’s / Teenage general interest: Biography and autobiography

Listen to a sample

“Hook kids on history with this series.”


“Beware, for this glimpse into the history and life of Mahalia Jackson could hook kids on history or biography. Jackson’s strength of character and unwavering focus should be an inspiration to today’s readers.”

Helen Hunter, Christian Library Journal.

“All children should read as many biographies as possible. This book portrays Mahalia as a real child growing up in poverty in the South. It shows her strength to persevere in her desire to sing only Gospel music. She ends up singing for presidents and for Martin Luther King. Her story is a model for young African-Americans. It is a small hardbound book with large print, a perfect size for this age level. I would recommend the purchase of this book for all elementary libraries.”

Lynn Jones, Howard Elementary

“Focusing on the early life of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, the book is written in an engaging style and includes her early experiences growing up in the South.”

Robin Rolfe, M.L. King, Jr. ECEC, Portland Public Schools

“[The Young Patriots series] outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Patria Press has successfully reintroduced America’s past with this fine series for children.”

Tina Velgos

“Mahalia moved from poverty to fame and success, singing for royalty, presidents and Martin Luther King Jr., but she did it in her own time, and in her own special way. A wonderfully inspiring story.”