Welcome to Black Music Month (BMM) on Justsoulyouknow. All month long I will be posting photos that are both historic and iconic as well as cool and awesome. Every other day or so, I will feature an amazing photo then give a little detail about that photo or the individuals contained in the photo. I intend to connect you to the amazing history of Black Music as well as demonstrate why Black Music maters.
First up is this amazing photo of Mahalia Jackson and Dean Martin sharing a good hearty laugh together. Life Magazine’s Allen Grant took this photo on Oct 1, 1958 during rehearsals for Bing Crosby’s new T.V. show called The Bing Crosby Show: Presented by Oldsmobile. During the time of this photo Mahalia Jackson was at the top of her game. She had just recorded her latest gospel album titled Live at Newport ’58, where she was part of the first ever Gospel Showcase of the Newport show. Her album was released in early ’59 and would later be consistently touted as one of the greatest live gospel albums ever recorded. Jackson was riding high on her new found fame as a singer/actor on the silver screen as well. Her performance in the film St Louis Blues, where she beautifully sang and acted, garnered great reviews from critics. Her appearance on the Bing Crosby’s show, which brought her image directly into the living rooms of America, was risky and bold. America was in the midst of an epic battle, which involved African Americans attempt to gain inclusion in American society while powerful whites labored to hold onto a segregated America. Jackson’s appearance threatened the national sponsorship of the show because America had yet to fully embrace an integrated performance on TV. However, as history has informed us, it was in part though the power of Black music that the civil rights struggle changed minds and freed a nation.
Check out the result of their rehearsal below: