FATHER OF GOSPEL MUSIC
Thomas A. Dorsey was originally a blues singer. During his time as a blues singer, he went by the name Georgia Tom. At the beginning of his career, Dorsey made his money singing off-color blues. Although Dorsey was successful as a blues singer he went through a time period where he lost all of his earnings. Dorsey used this financial setback as a sign to transform his career. He used his talent for songwriting to create Gospel music. Throughout his journey as a Gospel musician and composer, Dorsey became known as “The Father of Gospel Music” .
DORSEY'S CONTRIBUTION TO GOSPEL
Dorsey received the term “The Father of Gospel Music” through his innovative techniques. Dorsey used the traditional West African call and response technique and sophisticated it with rhythms from popular jazz and blues music. During, the late 1920’s black America was suffering from a deep economic depression. Thus, the essence of Gospel music was keeping the hopes of African-Americans alive.
DORSEY'S ARRANGEMENTS OF GOSPEL
Dorsey began to make income from his arrangements of Gospel through selling sheet music. He was one of the first people to merchandise his music through the churches by offering to play his songs for the congregations. Dorsey is most known for the composition of the gospel song “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”. However, Dorsey did not promote the success of the Gospel alone.
WHO IS MAHALIA JACKSON?
Thomas A. Dorsey could not have become the father of the gospel without the help of Mahalia Jackson. Mahalia Jackson was born in 1911 in New Orleans. She came to Chicago when she was 16-years-old and contributed to the arrangements of Thomas Dorsey through her voice. Dorsey would compose the songs while Mahalia became the woman responsible for introducing gospel music to the world.
From 1929 on, Dorsey worked exclusively within a religious setting, consciously applying blues melodies and rhythms to spiritual concerns. Dozens of his optimistic and sentimental songs became gospel standards, notably “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” During the 1980s, he was honored so often with honorary doctorates that he came to be known as Dr. Thomas A. Dorsey. He died in 1993 at the ripe old age of 94, but the memory of his beautiful songs, both gospel, and blues, will live on and on.