Thomas A. Dorsey

Induction Year: 1979

Birth Name: Thomas Andrew Dorsey

Birth Date: 07-01-1899

Place of Birth: Villa Rica, Georgia

Death Date: 01-23-1993

Place of Death: Chicago, Illinois

Thomas Dorsey is known as one of the twentieth century's premier composers of gospel music. His best-known works — "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley" — have become modern standards, known equally well to fans of all genres of American music. His songs have long been favorites in the country music community.

Thomas Dorsey's father was a Baptist revival minister, and his mother played the church organ. Born in Carroll County, Georgia in 1899, he was singing in Atlanta church choirs by 1908. While working selling refreshments at an Atlanta theater as a boy, he learned to read music and play piano from the venue's pianists.

He performed in Atlanta bars, brothels and dance halls from 1910 to 1916, then briefly attended Morehouse College. He moved north to the Chicago area and attended a music school there while working in the city's clubs with his five-piece band from 1919 to 1923. Subsequently, he accompanied and toured with legendary blues star Ma Rainey in from 1924 to 1928.

He launched his own recording career in 1928, originally billed as bluesman "Georgia Tom." His risqué "It's Tight Like That" became a major hit record in 1928 and led to more than 60 other blues recordings by him. In addition to Georgia Tom, his many pseudonyms during his blues-performing days included Barrelhouse Tommy, Memphis Jim, Railroad Bill, Smokehouse Charley, and Texas Tommy. He also recorded as a member of the Famous Hokum Boys and in duos with Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) and Kansas City Kitty (probably Thelma Holmes).

But throughout his blues career, he also composed religious songs. He formed his Thomas A. Dorsey Gospel Songs Music Publishing Company in 1930. In 1932, he became choral director at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, where for the next 40 years he would compose some of the best-loved gospel songs in America. From that point on, he concentrated on gospel music exclusively. He is now regarded as the father of modern gospel songwriting and the writer of two of the genre's greatest standards, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley."

He was elected to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981 and given a Recording Academy Trustees Award in 1992. Thomas A. Dorsey lived to the age of 93. His papers are preserved at Fisk University in Nashville.

"Come Let Us Go Back to God"

Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers1955 

"Devilish Blues"

Stovepipe Johnson1928 

"Every Day Will Be Sunday By and By"

The Blackwood Brothers1953 
Dorothy Love Coates1957 

"Grieving Blues"

Tampa Red & Georgia Tom1928 

"Hide Me in Thy Bosom (Rock Me)"

Sister Rosetta Tharpe1938 
The Golden Gate Quartet1939 
The Selah Jubilee Singers1940 
Blind Willie McTell1949 
The Soul Stirrers1951 
The Sunset Travelers1961 
The Fairfield Four1962 
The Dixie Hummingbirds1973 

"How Many Times"

The Blackwood Brothers1953 
Alex Bradford1973 

"I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About"

Mahalia Jackson1958 
Ray Brown1962 
Marion Williams1973 
Preacher Jack2008 

"I'm Waiting for Jesus"

The Dixie Hummingbirds1973 

"If We Never Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now)"

Mahalia Jackson1959 
Harpers Bizarre1970 
Marion Williams1973 
Take 61988 
The Lewis Family1995 
The Barrett Sisters1995 
The Dixie Hummingbirds2002 

"If You See My Savior"

The Blue Jay Quartet1931 
Mahalia Jackson1940 
Charlie Monroe1940 
Molly O'Day1950 
Sonny Terry1960 
Alex Bradford1973 
Marion Williams1991 
Anne Murray1999 
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver2004 

"It Don't Cost Very Much"

Mahalia Jackson1958 
Brother Joe May1962 
Turk Murphy1995 
Etta Cameron1996 

"It's Tight Like That"

Tampa Red & Georgia Tom1928 
McKinney's Cotton Pickers1929 
Jimmy Noone's Apex Club1929 
Luis Russell1929 
Clara Smith1929 
Coleman Hawkins1939 
Benny Goodman1940 
Chris Barber's Jazz Band1963 
The Sunshine Skiffle Band1992 
The Dixie Stompers1993 
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings2007 

"Last Minute Blues"

Ma Rainey1923 

"Maybe it's the Blues"

Georgia Tom1928 

"Miss Anna Brown Blues"

Alberta Hunter1923 

"Mississippi Bottom Blues"

Tom Dorsey1930 

"My Desire"

Guy Lombardo1945 
Mahalia Jackson1965 

"Peace in the Valley"

Rev. Thomas Dorsey1939 
The Paramount Singers1949 
The Southern Sons1950 
Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers1951 
Red Foley1951 #5 country
Sister Rosetta Tharpe1951 
The Blackwood Brothers1952 
Elvis Presley1957 #25 pop
Tennessee Ernie Ford1957 
Johnny Cash & the Carter Family1962 
George Jones1962 
Ruth Brown1963 
Loretta Lynn1965 
Little Richard1968 
Jimmy Dean1968 
Hank Locklin1968 
The Jordanaires1969 
Bill Anderson1972 
Michael Bloomfield1976 
B. J. Thomas1982 
John Anderson1987 
The Lost & Found1988 
The Charlie Daniels Band2001 
Take 62002 
John Conlee2004 
Porter Wagoner2007 

"Riverside Blues"

King Oliver1923 

"Rollin' Mill Blues"

Georgia Tom Dorsey1929 

"Second Handed Woman Blues"

Georgia Tom Dorsey1930 

"Some Cold Rainy Day"

Bertha "Chippie" Hill1928 

"Someday, Somewhere"

Thomas A. Dorsey1932 
Bessie Griffin1943 
Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers1955 
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver2003 

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord"

Thomas A. Dorsey1932 
Mitchell's Christian Singers1933 
Heavenly Gospel Singers1937 
Sister Rosetta Tharpe1941 
The Five Soul Stirrers1942 
The Blackwood Brothers1952 
Eddy Arnold1952 
The Maddox Brothers & Rose1953 
Jimmy Dickens1954 
Jimmie Davis1955 
Mahalia Jackson1956 
Jimmy Dean1957 
Elvis Presley1957 
Roy Acuff1958 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1957 
Chet Atkins1962 
Jim Reeves1962 
Cliff Richard1967 
Nina Simone1968 
Ferlin Husky1968 
Jim Nabors1970 
The Moms & Dads1972 
Bill Anderson & Jan Howard1972 
Ike & Tina Turner1974 
B. J. Thomas1982 
Pat Boone1984 
Guy & Ralna1987 
Janie Fricke1992 
Andy Griffith1996 
Charlie Daniels Band2002 
Etta James2005 
Randy Travis2005 

"The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"

Marion Williams1973 

"They Got It Fixed Right On"

Tampa Red & Georgia Tom1930 

"Walk Over God's Heaven"

Mahalia Jackson1954 
Alison Krauss & the Cox Family1994 
Etta James2002 

"When the Gates Swing Open"

The Dixie Hummingbirds1973 

"Where Did You Stay Last Night"

Big Bill Broonzy1930 

"You Can't Get That Stuff No More"

Tampa Red & Georgia Tom1932 

Thomas A. Dorsey

Induction Year: 1979