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Five women in my life – part 3

I think I was 11 years old. It was raining in Kolkata – I don’t remember the month, except that it was raining. My dad told me that this lady was coming to sing in St Paul’s Cathedral, and that we should be leaving home soon. When we got off the bus, it was still raining; in fact it was raining a lot harder. The Cathedral was jam packed – so much so that the authorities had covered up the car park with a temporary shamiana, and had hooked up a bunch of large loudspeakers so that those who couldn’t get into the Cathedral could listen to the music as well as get drenched in the rain in case they hadn’t found shelter in the shamiana.

That’s how I first heard the greatest gospel singer in the world – Mahalia Jackson. A huge voice, which could move mountains, and make God palpable. How could any God resist the sheer power of her singing, and the transparent intensity of her devotion? Just not possible – nobody could ignore her fervent appeal.

I saw films and TV shows of Mahalia years later and I could imagine her incredible presence – and I don’t just mean her size. She would snap her fingers and dance with the music, all while singing

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born halleluya

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born halleluya

The sheppard kept their watchin
All over the sheep
He hold the light from heaven
That shone a holy light, everybody

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

Born this bright glorious morning
Christ is born today
He came to redeem every sinner
And to wash, their sins away, halleluya

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills Lord, everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ Is born

Some forty odd years after that rainy day in Kolkata, I can still remember the impact she had on us. It’s all the more poignant for me, now that my father passed away a fortnight ago, and has gone where he can listen to Mahalia all day long.

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About thecrestedjay

I am passionate about football, jazz, classic rock, classic movies, crime, science fiction and P G Wodehouse. And also about NBA, western and Indian classical music. Since the wife will also read this blog, I cannot reveal my other passions in public. Have one son who plays the guitar, spent some time as an animator and now works for a digital marketing and advertising company. I also have one (1) wife. I spent a lot of my time on my music and books collection. I also have a passion for travelling but not a great deal of time and money to spend on this. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to do so.

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