Thomas A. Dorsey
- Source: David Seibert
- Marker: Thomas A. Dorsey
- Location: U.S. 78 at S. Dogwood Dr. in Villa Rica
THOMAS A. DORSEY Father of Gospel
Thomas Andrew Dorsey, composer of over 400 blues and gospel songs, lived here following his birth in Villa Rica on July 1, 1899. At Mt. Prospect Baptist Church he was exposed to shape-note singing and at home learned to play a used pump organ, experiences he said “sprang” his career. The young blues pianist moved to Chicago in 1919 in the Great Migration.
Dorsey wrote the world’s most popular gospel-blues song after his wife and newborn son died unexpectedly on August 36 and 27, 1932. That song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord has been translated into 32 languages. Aretha Franklin record Take My Hand, Precious Lord in 1956, the same year Tennessee Governor Frank Clement recited it. It became the anthem of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Mississippi Summer. Dorsey’s friend, Mahalia Jackson, sang it at Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral. Elvis Presley’s recording of Dorsey’s second-most-popular gospel song, Peace in the Valley, sold millions of copies.
For a while, any new gospel-blues song, regardless of who wrote it, was called a “Dorsey” until Dorsey himself coined the name “gospel”. Dorsey died in Chicago on January 23, 1993.
022-8 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1994