“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Villa Rica in Carroll County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)

Thomas A. Dorsey

Father of Gospel

Thomas A. Dorsey Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Seibert, December 8, 2007
1. Thomas A. Dorsey Marker
Inscription. 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 26 and 27, 1932. That song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord has been translated into 32 languages. Aretha Franklin recorded 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.
Erected 1994 by Georgia Department of Natural Resources. (Marker Number 022-8.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Georgia Historical Society/Commission marker series.
Location. 33° 43.947′ N, 84° 55.569′ W. Marker is in Villa Rica, Georgia, in Carroll County. Marker is at the intersection of West Bankhead Highway (Georgia Route 78) and South Dogwood Drive, on the left when traveling west on West Bankhead Highway. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Villa Rica GA 30180, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Villa Rica Explosion (approx. 0.4 miles away); Freedom Riders (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Grove (approx. 3.6 miles away); Vansant Brothers (approx. 10.2 miles away); Douglas County (approx. 10.2 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 10.2 miles away); Left of the Confederate Line (approx. 12.2 miles away); Army of the Tenn. At Dallas (approx. 13 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Villa Rica.
Additional comments.
1. A little more about the Thomas A. Dorsey marker
I composed the text for this marker. It is adapted from my biography of Thomas Dorsey that was first published in a flyer I designed for the Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace and Gospel Heritage Festival, Inc., of which I am founder and executive director emeritus. This 501(c)(3) was organized on May 20, 1993, shortly after Dorsey's death. The marker was dedicated on July 2, 1994. The United States Marine Band and the Mercer University Choir participated in the ceremony. The Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Choir (founded by the Hon. Shirley M. Marchman) is loosely affiliated with the 501(c)(3) and Mt. Prospect Baptist Church, Dorsey's boyhood church in Villa Rica. The choir has recorded a CD and traveled as far as Boston to sing in concerts. It has also sung in Villa Rica's annual Thomas Dorsey Gospel and Blues Festivals each summer since 1994. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted September 24, 2009, by Evan Wilson of Austin, Texas.

Categories. 20th CenturyAfrican AmericansArts, Letters, MusicPolitics
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by David Seibert of Sandy Springs, Georgia. This page has been viewed 2,842 times since then and 83 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on , by David Seibert of Sandy Springs, Georgia. • Christopher Busta-Peck was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?
Paid Advertisement