In addition to her work as an international recording artist and civil rights activist, the Queen of Gospel entered the restaurant business in the late 1960s with Mahalia Jackson’s Glori-fried Chicken. The fast food chain was more than a brand extension for the star; it was the first African American-owned franchise in the South. Producer Betsy Shepherd explores how Mahalia used the gospel bird to push for economic empowerment in the black community.


Read more about Mahalia Jackson’s Chicken in this Gravy article by Alice Randall. 

Watch our short film & Fried Pies about Mayo’s Mahalia Jackson Chicken & Fried Pies in Nashville.

Read our oral history with E.W. Mayo.


Betsy Shepherd is a freelance writer, radio producer, and all-around music obsessive. She earned master’s degrees in ethnomusicology and journalism from Indiana University, and previously worked at The Oxford American magazine, the Archives of African American Music & Culture, and the nationally syndicated radio program American Routes. When she’s not cutting tape, Betsy is deejaying underground sounds and B-sides around New Orleans and on her favorite radio station, WWOZ.