His Legacy

“His songs have the great virtue of taking their audience seriously. Unlike so¬† many evangelical hymns, his songs feature literate, innovative, witty lyrics, many including subtle but emphatic, politcal and social messages. His melodies draw from blues, ballads, and plaintive waltzes. His rhythms are more innovative and reflect all the great musical changes that have occured in Memphis itself.”

-Anthony Hielbut (People Get Ready, 175)

Thomas Andrew Dorsey died January 23, 1993, at 93 years old due to complications from Alzheimers’ disease (Georgia Encyclopedia).

Thomas Dorsey as an older man


Thomas Dorsey has numerous credits to his name and hundreds of compositions under his belt by the time he passed away. Dorsey gave blues singers the opportunity to express their sadness but also their happiness in the same style of song in a way that had never been done before in secular music (Georgia Music). While Dorsey did not create Gospel music, he did bring more attention to the genre by increasing the visibility and knowledge about it. With his talent, he was able to bring religious music into mainstream culture and make it popular outside of the African American religious community. This solidified Dorsey as his title of “The Father of Black Gospel Music.”