Screen shot of film.

Robin Roberts is internationally known for her work in sports broadcasting at ESPN and then as the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America since 2005. Now, the former athlete and trailblazer who helped usher in an era of women broadcasters has turned her attention to the life of iconic gospel singer and activist Mahalia Jackson. Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, the story of one of the most revered singers in American history debuts April 3 at 8 p.m. EST on the Lifetime Network.

Roberts who was born in Tuskegee Alabama and raised in Mississippi before heading to college at Southeastern Louisiana University speaks often about her love of Louisiana.The daughter of a Tuskegee Airmen Col. Lawrence E. Roberts and Educator Lucimarian Roberts, who was the first African American to serve as chairwoman of the Mississippi State Board of Education, Roberts aimed high as an athlete, student and eventually broadcaster. Roberts who credits her faith for her wins against an ongoing battle with cancer credits her parents for imparting discipline and faith, two qualities that are inherent in the story of gospel legend and civil rights icon Mahalia Jackson.

Born in New Orleans, Mahalia began singing at an early age and went on to become one of the most revered gospel figures in U.S. history, melding her music with the civil rights movement. Her recording of the song “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions of copies, skyrocketing her to international fame and gave her the opportunity to perform at diverse settings including in front of a racially integrated audience at the prestigious Carnegie Hall and at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. An active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, Jackson sang at numerous rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963 alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in hopes that her music would encourage and inspire racial equality. From Rock’n Robin Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, Mahalia is executive produced by Robin Roberts and Linda Berman.

Known best for her outstanding work as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black and her Tony nominated role as Sophia in the Broadway production of The Color Purple Starring, Mahalia stars Julliard-trained and SAG award-winning actress Danielle Brooks. Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia premieres Saturday, April 3 on Lifetime at 8/7c. Check your local listings for channel information.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire

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