Resource id #75
Image Source: Wikipedia

Thomas Andrew Dorsey

Thomas Andrew Dorsey (July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993) was an American musician, composer, and Christian evangelist influential in the development of early blues and 20th-century gospel music. He penned 3,000 songs, a third of them gospel, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley". Recordings of these sold millions of copies in both gospel and secular markets in the 20th century.

Born in rural Georgia, Dorsey grew up in a religious family but gained most of his musical experience playing blues at barrelhouses and parties in Atlanta. He moved to Chicago and became a proficient composer and arranger of jazz and vaudeville just as blues was becoming popular. He gained fame accompanying blues belter Ma Rainey on tour and, billed as "Georgia Tom", joined with guitarist Tampa Red in a successful recording career.

After a spiritual awakening, Dorsey began concentrating on writing and arranging religious music. Aside from the lyrics, he saw no real distinction between blues and church music, and viewed songs as a supplement to spoken word preaching. Dorsey served as the music director at Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church for 50 years, introducing musical improvisation and encouraging personal elements of participation such as clapping, stomping, and shouting in churches when these were widely condemned as unrefined and common. In 1932, he co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, an organization dedicated to training musicians and singers from all over the U.S. that remains active. The first generation of gospel singers in the 20th century worked or trained with Dorsey: Sallie Martin, Mahalia Jackson, Roberta Martin, and James Cleveland, among others.

Author Anthony Heilbut summarized Dorsey's influence by saying he "combined the good news of gospel with the bad news of blues". Called the "Father of Gospel Music" and often credited with creating it, Dorsey more accurately spawned a movement that popularized gospel blues throughout black churches in the United States, which in turn influenced American music and parts of society at large.

Birth and Death Data: Born July 1, 1899 (Villa Rica), Died January 23, 1993 (Chicago)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1923 - 1951

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, piano, composer, songwriter, lyricist, arranger, speaker, whistling

Notes: Used pseudonyms Georgia Tom and Memphis Mose.

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 166 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-48619 10-in. 11/23/1928 It's tight like that McKinney's Cotton Pickers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor BVE-48755 10-in. 12/14/1928 Rolling mill stomp State Street Stompers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BVE-48756 10-in. 12/14/1928 Panama blues State Street Stompers Jazz/dance band speaker  
Victor BS-87037 10-in. 12/11/1934 I'll be home some day Carter Family Mixed vocal trio, with 2 guitars composer  
Victor BS-99398 10-in. 2/27/1936 Red's tight like that Tune Wranglers String band, with male vocal solo and ensemble songwriter  
Victor BS-028116 10-in. 10/18/1938 It's tight like that Eddie De Lange Orchestra ; Phil Sillman Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and vocal ensemble songwriter  
Victor BS-032653 10-in. 2/5/1939 If you see my Saviour Charlie Monroe’s Boys Male vocal duet, with guitar and mandolin composer, lyricist  
Victor E1VB-0103 10-in. 1/9/1951 I want to be more like Jesus Carpenter Trio Vocal trio, with piano arranger  
Columbia 140064 10-in. 9/30/1924 Freight train blues Clara Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio songwriter  
Columbia W147890 10-in. 1/26/1929 It's tight like that Clara Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with trombone and piano songwriter  
Columbia 147945 10-in. 2/8/1929 It's tight like that Lou Gold Orchestra ; Robert Wood Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
OKeh 8484 10-in. October 1923 Riverside blues King Oliver’s Jazz Band Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh 9789 10-in. 6/25/1926 That Creole band Gut Bucket Five ; Albert Wynn Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh S-71595 10-in. June 1923 I just want a daddy Alice Carter Female vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
OKeh S-72858 10-in. Sept. 1924 Eagle Rock me, papa Clarence Williams’ Blue Five ; Sara Martin Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance quintet songwriter  
OKeh W401534 10-in. 1/15/1929 It's tight like that Burning Eight ; Luis Russell Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
OKeh W402204 10-in. 12/11/1928 (Honey) It's tight like that Harry Jones ; Papa Too Sweet Male vocal duet, with piano and guitar instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
OKeh W402205 10-in. 12/11/1928 Big fat mama Papa Too Sweet Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W403307 10-in. 11/15/1929 Lonesome man blues Sylvester Palmer Male vocal solo, with piano composer, lyricist  
Brunswick VO100 10-in. 1/21/1931 Do it some more Georgia Tom ; Kansas City Kitty Female-male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, composer, lyricist  
Brunswick VO101 10-in. 1/21/1931 Knife man blues Georgia Tom ; Kansas City Kitty Female-male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, composer, lyricist  
Brunswick VO114 10-in. 2/6/1931 New stranger's blues Georgia Tom ; Tampa Red Male vocal duet, with guitar and piano vocalist, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Brunswick VO115 10-in. 2/6/1931 Georgia hound blues Tampa Red Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, piano  
Brunswick VO120 10-in. 2/10/1931 Things ‘bout coming my way Tampa Red Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, piano  
Brunswick VO121 10-in. 2/10/1931 Cotton seed blues Tampa Red Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, piano  
(Results 1-25 of 166 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Dorsey, Thomas Andrew," accessed February 25, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106306.

Dorsey, Thomas Andrew. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106306.

"Dorsey, Thomas Andrew." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 25 February 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106306

Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.