Enter the world of the Mahalia Jackson Theater
Since 1973, the Mahalia Jackson Theater has been a beacon for the performing arts in New Orleans. The theater, designed by architect William Bergman, is home to the New Orleans Ballet Association and the New Orleans Opera Association. Seating 2,100 patrons, the theater hosts some of the best in live performances in the city from local performers to top acts like Diana Ross.
Mahalia Jackson, often known as the “Queen of Gospel” was one of the most influential gospel and blues singers of all time. She was born in New Orleans in 1911 and got her start singing at the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Jackson appeared on stages across the United States and Europe, as well as on tv shows with Ed Sullivan and Dinah Shore. She was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement where she would sing at rallies and marches. Mahalia Jackson sang at the March on Washington and even encouraged Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” Originally called the New Orleans Theater for the Performing Arts, the theater’s name was changed in 1995 to honor the incredible artist and activist that called New Orleans home.
Damage and Restoration
The Mahalia Jackson Theater suffered extensive water and wind damage in 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Over 14 feet of water poured into the theater, damaging everything. After four years and $27 million in repairs and renovations, the theater reopened in early 2009 to performances by local legends Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas, and Allen Toussaint. The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts was the first major theater in New Orleans to reopen after the hurricane.