Once again Ms. Kemp brings the history and faith of the African American people to her study of gospel music, reminding the reader that gospel music is sacred music. This time the subject is singer, pianist, composer, arranger, publisher, and business entrepreneur, Thomas A. Dorsey. Often books on Dorsey focus on his performance style or place him and gospel music within the context of the Great Migration. Ms. Kemp instead analyzes the roles Dorsey’s Christian faith and his Christian upbringing, which includes his father being a Christian minister and his mother being a church organist, play in his rise to become the “Father of Gospel Music.” She examines Dorsey’s secular life and music, his sacred life and music, and how he joined the secular and the sacred together to create the gospel song which became a foundation of gospel music.
Janet Harper Librarian Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago April 3, 2015
In her new book Anointed to Sing the Gospel: The Levitical Legacy of Thomas A. Dorsey, Kathryn B. Kemp pays homage to the “Father of Gospel Music” as a modern-day Levite. This unique biography traces Dorsey’s career from his early exposure to black spirituals in his native Villa Rica, GA, to his introduction to secular music and as the accompanist for the blues singer “Ma Rainey”. It continues to his innovation of the gospel song and contributions to Chicago’s gospel choirs from his home base at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, IL. Dorsey’s legacy to modern-day Levites, interviews with devotees and admirers, and background on the oldest gospel music convention he co-founded:The National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses are shared in this work to encompass his far-reaching impact on the gospel music genre.
Mark Boone – Editor
In the beginning music was ordained by God for a divine purpose: and that purpose was to worship and praise Him. Known by many names: “musician, “conductor”, “arranger”, “poet”, “prophet” and “shepherd”, Professor Thomas Dorsey ..deserves recognition not only as the preeminent gospel music composer, but also as a modern day Levite. A careful reading of the fifth chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles provides the reader with valuable insight into this priestly class as a frame of reference for understanding this book.
Elder William R. Fuqua M.Div.