Georgia Tom Dorsey (1899-1993)
(2007 INDUCTEE) THOMAS A. DORSEY RECORDED BLUES FOR THE GENNETT LABEL FROM 1923 TO 1930. USING THE NAME GEORGIA TOM, AFTER 1932 HE WAS MOST FAMOUS FOR WRITING AND PERFORMING GOSPEL MUSIC.
DONATED BY FIRST BANK RICHMOND
Thomas A. Dorsey of Villa Rica, Georgia, the father of gospel music, came from a devout family. In 1916, Dorsey moved to Chicago. Dorsey began to work with Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, one of the most popular female blues performers during the 1920s and a Paramount artist. Adopting the moniker “Georgia Tom”, Dorsey began to record with Rainey in the mid-20s and later with blues guitarist Tampa Red. Dorsey created many sides for Gennett Records between 1928 and 1930, many of which were issued on related labels including Supertone and Champion. Throughout his early career, Dorsey struggled considerably between the opposite cultures of the church and the secular music world. He eventually chose to embrace the church after suffering the terrible loss of his wife and newborn son in August, 1932, within the same 24 hour period. To alleviate his pain from the loss, Dorsey wrote the now-famous song, “Precious Lord Take My Hand.” He also wrote the well-known gospel song “Peace in the Valley,” made famous by Elvis Presley. After 1932 Dorsey never returned to the blues, but instead continued writing gospel music and in the process became a pillar in the history of gospel music.
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