September is Gospel Music Heritage Month. In honor of that designation GME will remember some of the pioneers of gospel music throughout the month. Today GME looks back at Thomas A.Dorsey, the Father of Gospel Music.
Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993) moved to Chicago and became very successful playing at after-parties and was referred to as the “whispering piano player.” He became a celebrated blues and jazz band leader and wrote four hundred and sixty R&B and jazz songs. According to Dorsey, his life took a major turn as he listened to a hymn at a Baptist convention. He became a committed Christian and began writing and performing gospel hymns. Dorsey was not initially well-received in the church with his style of music which some felt was not really “church music.”
“I’ve been thrown out of some of the best churches in America”~ Thomas Dorsey recalling his difficult rise to becoming the father of gospel music.
In 1932, Dorsey’s wife died during childbirth and his newborn son died two days later. He found solace in his music and penned the much-loved hymn, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” which he said came directly from God. Dorsey co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCCINC) in 1933 which created a kinship among gospel choirs.
Click HERE to see Dorsey sing “Precious Lord” while he directs a choir.
According to the NCGCCINC website, Dorsey received many honors, citations and awards during his more than seventy-five years of music ministry. He was the first African American to be entered into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, having composed 1,000 songs. His work is in the Smithsonian Institute and Dorsey was featured in the movie, “Say Amen, Somebody.”
To hear Dorsey discuss gospel music click HERE.
Selected songs of Thomas A. Dorsey
Walking Up the King’s Highway
Hide Me in Thy Bosom
God Be With You
I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song
(There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley
What Could I Do
I’m Waiting For Jesus
I Don’t Know Why
If You See My Savior
If We Never Needed The Lord Before
Thy Servant’s Prayer Amen
Search Me Lord
When The Gates Swing Open
How Many Times
I’ll Tell It Wherever I Go
Never Turn Back
The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow