An angelic soprano voice took Agnes Marie Jackson from the choir of Newstead Avenue Missionary Baptist Church to ministering around the world alongside gospel music legends. She passed away on May 12. She was 87 years old.
“Everyone she met was touched by her compassion and dedication,” her family said in a statement. “She worked in God’s vineyard until the very end.”
Life for Agnes Marie Jackson began on September 25, 1931. She was the fifth of nine children born to Reverend Chester A. Jackson Sr. and Anna Fields Jackson in St. Louis, MO. Jackson and her sisters were standout members of Newstead Church’s children and youth choirs.
She studied to become a teacher, but after completing her studies at Stowe Teachers College, music would become her primary teaching tool as she committed her life to spreading the word of Christ through song.
Jackson launched her singing career on the St. Louis gospel scene – but ended up spending several decades traveling the world as a singer. She sang with the renowned Geneisa Smith and spent several years as a member of The Famous Ward Singers.
The Famous Ward Singers and their leader Clara Mae Ward were gospel music pioneers that crossed over into mainstream popular music – though they remained convicted to the message in their music despite the growth of a secular fan base. Their singing style and intricate arrangements led by Clara Ward influenced several generations of musicians both in the faith based and secular world – including The Clark Sisters and most famously Aretha Franklin. They toured with Aretha Franklin’s father Rev. Dr. C.L. Franklin.
Jackson’s work with The Famous Ward Singers led to her relocation to
Los Angeles, where she spent more than 30 years. She was a highly sought after studio singer and traveled nationally and internationally using her gift of song to spread God’s word.
“Her love for Christ and His work knew no boundaries,” Jackson’s family said. “Working unselfishly in a variety of capacities wherever she was needed, her work extended from the music studio to the church and neighborhood.”
Jackson retired to her hometown of St. Louis in 2016, where she remained until her death. Her services were held on May 20th at Reliable Funeral Home and she was laid to rest at Valhalla Cemetery.
She is survived by three sisters: Onelia E. Jackson Giles of St. Louis, MO, Ivy L. Jackson Davis (Cornelius) of University City, MO, Etta J. Jackson of St. Charles, MO, Stepsister S. Lavernn Wilson of Edwardsville, IL; three brothers: William Earl Jackson of St. Louis, MO, Phillip H, Jackson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stepbrother James F. Douglas of Chicago, Illinois as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.