African-American composer and arranger, the acknowledged "father of gospel music." Thomas Andrew Dorsey remains arguably the most influential figure ever to impact the genre. A versatile composer whose material shifted easily from energetic hard gospel to hymns. Dorsey penned many of the best known and familiar songs in gospel, among them "Precious Lord," "Peace In The Valley," "I Don't Know Why," "Search Me Lord," "Old Ship Of Zion," and "The Lord Will Make A Way." He was born in Villa Rica, Georgia in 1899 and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. A child prodigy, he absorbed all musical sounds of his surroundings, circus songs, Blues, jazz, vaudeville tunes, hillbilly ballads, and the popular revival hymns. He also taught himself a wide range of instruments, and was playing blues and ragtime while still in his teens; under the stage name Georgia Tom. Dorsey settled in Chicago in 1918, he there began playing in area jazz bands including forming his own group, the Wildcats Jazz Band, which traveled in support of singer Ma Rainey. Lack of work soon made Dorsey result in peddling song sheets to make a living. In 1932, he organized one of the first gospel choirs at Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church. That same year he founded the first publishing house devoted exclusively to selling music by black gospel composers. It was in 1933, Dorsey and gospel singer Sallie Martin along with others organized the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, where they introduced new songs to choir directors from across the nation. Dorsey was a pioneering force in the renowned Chicago gospel community, where he help launch the careers of legends including Mahalia Jackson and "Mother" Willie Mae Smith. Thomas A. Dorsey died in Chicago in Jan. of 1993, he indeed was a living testimony of the power of God.
Bio by: Curtis Jackson