Thomas A. Dorsey

Induction Year: 1979


Birth Name: Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey
Birth Date: July 01, 1899
Place of Birth: Villa Rica, GA
Deceased: January 23, 1993
Place of Death: Chicago, IL



Biography

"When I realized how hard some folks were fighting the gospel idea, I was determined to carry the banner."

"I borrowed five dollars and sent out 500 copies of my song, 'If You See My Savior,' to churches throughout the country....It was three years before I got a single order. I felt like going back to the blues."



Discography / Career Highlights

Career Milestones:
1911 - became a resident pianist at a local theater; helped to support his family
1916 - moved to Chicago, where he became involved in blues music; appeared under the name Georgia Tom
1919 - began to write gospel songs
1926 - wrote one of his first gospel hits, "If You See My Savior, Tell Him That You Saw Me," after after a good friend died
1928 - hit the top of the blues chart with "It's Tight Like That; went on to sell more than 7 million copies
1931 - first black gospel chorus established by Dorsey and Theodore Frye
1932 - wrote "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," which became a gospel standard
1932 - gave up his popular music career and devoted himself to sacred/gospel music
1932 - founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses
1983 - Dorsey appeared in George T. Nierenberg's film on the history of gospel music, "Say Amen, Somebody"

Awards:
1985 - Governor's Award for the Arts (Chicago)
1992 - Grammy\National Trustees Award

Catalog Highlights:
"Take My Hand, Precious Lord" - Artists: Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson

"(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me) - Artists: Red Foley (1951), Elvis Presley (1956)

Comments:
Called the First King of Gospel Music and Gospel's Irving Berlin

As a young man, Dorsey accompanied some of the most famous blues singers - like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey

Also arranged and composed blues tunes

Dorsey's "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" was named by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., as his favorite song

In 1931, Dorsey lost his wife during childbirth, and his infant son a day later; these tragic events inspired him to write "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"

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