Singers pay tribute to gospel great

July 9, 2007 at 11:05 AM
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CHICAGO, July 9 (UPI) -- American gospel music icon Thomas Dorsey, who wrote songs that comforted listeners for decades, was honored in Chicago in a tribute near his old church.

Dorsey's wife of 52 years, Kathryn, greeted well-wishers Sunday during a tribute to Dorsey in Chicago across the street from his old church, Pilgrim Baptist, trying to rebuild after fire gutted it last year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday.

Dorsey, who wrote "Take My Hand, Precious Lord, and "Peace in the Valley," is credited with blending spirituals with a blues-oriented beat to create gospel sound. Mahalia Jackson sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," at the Rev. Martin Luther King's funeral. His hymns were covered by artists such as Elvis Presley, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

"He was proud of just about all of (his hymns), but 'Precious Lord' was the best, I thought," Kathryn Dorsey said in the Sun-Times articles. The hymn was written after his first wife died during childbirth and their infant died soon after.

During his life, Dorsey, who died in 1993, wrote hundreds of hymns.

"He would go to bed sometimes and get up and write a whole song, and then they would sing it in church," Kathryn Dorsey told the newspaper.

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