ABKCO’s ‘Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia’ Soundtrack Is A Mostly Successful Presentation

Courtesy: ABKCO

Lifetime officially debuted its much anticipated biopic about Mahalia Jackson over the weekend.  In coordination with the made-for-TV movie’s premiere, ABKCO released the movie’s official soundtrack Friday, to all digital outlets.  The 20-song soundtrack is a presentation that many listeners will find interesting.  That is due in part to its general presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the general presentation makes for plenty of interest, the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability detracts somewhat from its appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  Taking into account the problem posed by the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability, it is not enough to make the presentation a failure.  There is still one more positive to note in the way of the performances. They will be discussed a little later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the soundtrack’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the soundtrack a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.

ABKCO’s newly released soundtrack to Lifetime network’s Mahalia Jackson biopic, Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is a presentation that audiences will find mostly interesting.  Most of that interest comes from the soundtrack’s general presentation.  This soundtrack is presented more like a “cast recording” for a musical than that of some big screen presentation.  It features songs performed in the movie alongside instrumentals composed by the soundtrack’s producer, Matthew Head.  The full songs were performed primarily by lead star and Juliard graduate Danielle Brooks.  Her performances and the instrumentals will be discussed in more depth later.  Most of the songs are relatively short, with the longest clocking in at three minutes, 24 seconds.  The shortest of the songs is a mere 53 seconds in length.  So what audiences get here is a soundtrack whose pacing is solid, even despite the presentation featuring so many songs.  What’s more, the songs are works that were pulled directly from the movie, rather than just a bunch of commercially-produced works created by random acts for the purpose of pushing new singles.  That whole makes the soundtrack’s general presentation a solid, welcoming foundation for the soundtrack.

For all of the appeal that the soundtrack’s general presentation creates for its whole, the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability detracts from that appeal.  As noted already here, the soundtrack was released to all digital outlets Friday.  A check of all of the major retailers found no physical availability for the soundtrack.  Simply put, it makes this limited availability somewhat discriminatory against those who prefer the physical object over the digital.  That is not to say that ABKCO will not at some point, make the soundtrack available in physical format, but regardless, aiming it mainly at digital music consumers over those who buy physical even to start out does detract from the soundtrack’s appeal to a point.  Thankfully, that one issue is not enough to make the soundtrack a failure.  The actual performances featured in the recording work with the general presentation to make the soundtrack more appealing.

The performances that are presented in the soundtrack to Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia are of note because they are not lip synched.  Far too often, many studios that present musicals tend to use separate performers for speaking and singing parts in musicals.  That is not limited just to Disney, either.  Thankfully that is not the case here, Lead star Danielle Brooks puts her training from Juliard on full display throughout the recording.  Her performance in ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’ is a prime example of her talent.  The power and control that she exhibits in this fully a capella performance is incredible to say the very least.  It is the kind of performance that raises goose bumps on a person’s arms in the best way possible. On a separate note, Head’s composition, ‘Estelle’s Childhood’ evokes its own emotion through its simple piano line and what sounds like a subtle cello line.  The composition is the record’s shortest, but is so powerful even in that short space.  On yet another note, Head’s light hearted performance of ‘Sweetened Water Song,’ with its semi-ragtime feel presents its own identity and positive sense.  Whether through this brief arrangement, the others noted here and the rest of the soundtrack’s featured songs, the whole of that presentation makes unquestionable, the talent put on display throughout the soundtrack.  When the appeal generated by the soundtrack’s performances is considered along with that generated by the record’s general presentation, the whole makes the soundtrack well worth hearing at least once.  That is the case even considering the limitation in the recording’s availability.

ABKCO’s newly released soundtrack to Lifetime’s Mahalia Jackson biopic, Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is a presentation that is a mostly successful work.  That is proven in part through its general presentation.  The general presentation here is that of a soundtrack that is more akin to that of a stage musical than so many of the commercially produced presentations out there that are used for acts to push new singles, etc.  That in itself makes for its own share of appeal.  While the soundtrack’s general presentation makes for its own share of appeal, the limitation in its availability to – at least right now – only digital detracts from the soundtrack’s appeal to a point.  Luckily that negative is not enough to make the soundtrack a failure, but it does still detract from the overall presentation here.  The performances presented by star Danielle Brooks and the compositions crafted by Matthew Head, the soundtrack’s producer, work with  the  general presentation to make for even more appeal.  When the two elements are considered along with the soundtrack’s one negative, the whole becomes a work that is mostly a successful offering.  The soundtrack to Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is available now through all digital outlets.

More information on this and other titles from ABKCO is available along with the label’s latest news at:




To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.