Mattie Shannon Smith (b. 1916)
“I get more joy out of singing spirituals. It gives you a message more than blues.
I’m growing older, growing older in spirit, child. I’m growing closer to the Lord.”
Mattie Smith performed for church services, funerals, and concerts, sometimes accompanied by the piano or organ but shunning tambourines, guitars, horns, and drums. She traveled with the Camp Meeting Choir, heard over radio broadcast coast to coast. Once she sang in a local church for Mahalia Jackson, who said, “I’ll steal you away from here” but Smith resisted the chance for riches and fame and stayed. “How rich can I get when I get Jesus?” she asked.