“Mahalia has been my muse since I was a little girl,” the jazz vocalist shared with Rolling Out on the gospel legend’s influence on her life. “Her mesmerizing voice was a constant in my life.”
McCann continued, “As a matter of fact, Mahalia’s long-time collaborator Thomas Dorsey’s niece, the Rev. Dr. Lena McLin, was my vocal instructor at Kenwood Academy. Along with my classical training, the music of Negro spirituals and gospel music was further cemented into my presentation as a vocalist. The idea that I would later create a musical tribute for Mahalia; that I would tour all over the world seemed natural to me. But, as I sit here now looking back, it seems so unbelievable.”
The show is described by the Hyde Park festival as “a synergy between gospel and the sonic power of big band. It is a fresh and soulful re-imagining of the sound that Mahalia Jackson embodied, and celebrates not only her music but her life experiences and her contribution to the world community. ”
McCann is a professional jazz vocalist and musician with national and local recognition. She has earned Chicago Tribune’s Best Jazz Vocal Performance accolade several times and was recently honored as 2020 Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz. She has performed with the likes of NEA Jazz Masters, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ramsey Lewis, Von Freeman, and others on stages ranging from Carnegie Hall to Chicago’s own Jazz Showcase and Green Mill.
Other performers at the Chicago event include local artists with special guests, including Tomeka Reid with Regina Carter, Isaiah Collier with JD Allen, Juan Pastor’s Chinchano with Miguel Zenon, and more than two dozen additional performances.
The Hyde Park Jazz Festival takes place on Sept. 25 from 1 p.m.–10 p.m. and Sept. 26 from noon–7 p.m. The festival is free, although a $5 per person donation is asked.
Yes, Mahalia! continues a year in which the legendary singer has received her roses. In April, Jackson’s life story was told in the form of a biopic titled Mahalia starring Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks. The project aired on Lifetime and chronicled the journey of the four-time Grammy Award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.