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Who was the Father of Gospel Music?

Black History Quiz
Who was the Father of Gospel Music?
By Jim Stroud • Issue #99 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 am EST. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

During the early 1930s, he created gospel music - the African American religious music which married secular blues to a sacred text. Under the name “Georgia Tom” he performed with blues artist Ma Rainey and her Wild Cats Jazz Band. He wrote over 400 compositions, but it is for “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” that he is best known.
He was the son of a Baptist preacher; his mother was the church organist. Throughout his early years he felt torn between the sacred and the secular. At eleven, he left school to take a job at a local vaudeville theater. Six years later, he left Atlanta for Chicago. He was part of the Great Migration north. In Chicago, he found success almost immediately. He was known as the “whispering piano player,” called to perform at after-hours parties where the pianist had to play quietly enough to avoid drawing police attention.
At twenty-one, his hectic and unhealthy schedule led to a nervous breakdown. He convalesced back home in Atlanta. There, his mother admonished him to stop playing the blues and “ serve the Lord.” He ignored her and returned to Chicago, playing with Ma Rainey. He married his sweetheart, Nettie Harper. But in 1925, a second breakdown left him unable to play music.
After his recovery three years later, he committed himself to composing sacred music. However, mainstream churches rejected his songs. Then, in August 1932, his life was thrown into crisis when his wife and son died during childbirth. In his grief, he turned to the piano for comfort. The tune he wrote, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” came, he says, direct from God.
He co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1933. Six years later, he teamed with Mahalia Jackson, and the team ushered in what was known as the “Golden Age of Gospel Music.” Afterwards, he became known as the father of gospel music. He died in 1993.
QUIZ: What was his name?
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In 1831, Tice Davids, a fugitive from slavery, fled from his owner in Kentucky. Davids swam across the Ohio River with his owner in close pursuit in a boat. Davids reached the Ohio shore at the town of Ripley just a few minutes before his owner, but the owner could not find his slave. The owner purportedly said that Davids “must of gone off on an underground road.” Local abolitionists probably hid the man and helped him escape.
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BHQ ANSWER
Thomas Dorsey
Thomas Dorsey
“The Father of Gospel Music” was Thomas Dorsey. He has been quoted as saying, “I’ve been thrown out of some of the best churches in America.” [source]
For further study:
Documentary clip on Thomas Dorsey
Documentary clip on Thomas Dorsey
DR Thomas Dorsey  Father of Gospel Music
DR Thomas Dorsey Father of Gospel Music
Meet the Father of Black Gospel Music who was rejected by early mainstream churches - Face2Face Africa
Thomas Andrew Dorsey | American musician | Britannica
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Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 am EST. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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