Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I meant to get this up last Saturday, for Alice's birthday. A belated happy birthday, Alice.
Today's selection is "Precious Lord," composed by Thomas Andrew Dorsey(born July 1, 1899, Villa Rica, Ga., U.S. — died Jan. 23, 1993, Chicago, Ill.) He was a songwriter, singer, and pianist, known as the "father of gospel music." Born the son of a revivalist preacher, Dorsey was influenced by blues pianists in the Atlanta area. After moving to Chicago in 1916, he appeared under the name of "Georgia Tom," became a pianist with Ma Rainey, and composed secular "hokum" songs (those peppered with risqué double entendres). In 1916 he moved to Chicago, where he attended the College of Composition and Arranging. In the 1920s he toured with Ma Rainey and his own bands, often featuring the slide guitarist Tampa Red.
He wrote his first gospel song in 1919. In 1931, Dorsey experienced great personal tragedy. The death in childbirth of both his wife and newborn son devastated him. As he related in the documentary "Say Amen Somebody," "People tried to tell me things that were soothing to me … none of which have ever been soothing from that day to this." Out of that tragedy he wrote "Precious Lord," the song for which he is best known.
In 1932 he abandoned the blues completely and founded the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. His more than 1,000 gospel songs include "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," "Peace in the Valley," and "If We Ever Needed the Lord Before." He recorded extensively in the early 1930s. Many of his songs were introduced by Mahalia Jackson. He founded and directed the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.
Credits : Frank Driggs Collection/© Archive Photos; Brittanica.com]