Gospel music begat soul music, and soul singing (albeit a debased form of it) informs many of the R&B-laced pop hits of today.

Gospel music begat soul music, and soul singing (albeit a debased form of it) informs many of the R&B-laced pop hits of today. The patron saint of real deep-soul singing is the towering gospel heroine Mahalia Jackson. Although the Baptist churchgoer would never sing the actual blues herself, the New Orleans-born and Chicago-bred artist was deeply influenced by iconic blues belter Bessie Smith. Jackson's brand of gospel vocalizing resounds with the bluesy melismas and syncopated rhythms of the black American vernacular. As a result, listeners don't have to be singing from the same choirbook to be in harmony with the downhome sound of Jackson enlivening a spiritual like "How I Got Over" or "Trouble in My Way." This beautifully remastered set of mid-'50s performances comes with seven previously unreleased tracks, such as a thrillingly live "Elijah Rock" with Jackson accompanied by the earthy piano of Mildred Falls. The studio cuts feature an expanded lineup, including the likes of organist Billy Preston, guitarist Herb Ellis, and drummer Shelly Manne. No collection of American music is complete without this disc—or Recorded Live in Europe and Mahalia Jackson in Concert, also just reissued by Legacy.—BB