Behind the Greatest Gospel Songs Of the 20th Century

It takes more than just a powerful rendition to make a song great. The song’s composition also plays a role in achieving greatness and staying power in the minds of its listener, regardless of their generation. With the greatest gospel songs, title, who wrote, artist that made them popular won’t be easily forgotten. Songwriters are just like singers in many respects – a great one will be remembered for his skill and the innovative ways he/she utilizes music. The likes of Thomas A. Dorsey, Doris Akers, and Charles Albert Tindley just to name a few are behind some of the greatest gospel songs in the genre.  Though a large part of the songs’ popularity may be attributed to the artists that interpreted the compositions, there’s no denying that part of the success of the songs lies in its structure and the innovative ways it used music.

Thomas A. Dorsey is considered as the Father of Black Gospel Music. He is the composer of some of the most memorable gospel songs in the business. It’s not very common for a music style to be named after the composer who wrote the songs, but during the height of his popularity, his compositions were known as “dorseys”. He was an innovator, Gospel Songs deviating from the standard hymnal practices of his time and combining jazz and blues rhythms with Christian praise. One of his best-known title is “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”. Mahalia Jackson, the artist that made popular “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was the Queen of Gospel Music at the time and her version was a favorite of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Another gospel standard title attributed to Dorsey is “Peace in the Valley” who wrote it for Mahalia Jackson in 1937. Mahalia Jackson and Thomas A. Dorsey are names frequently attached to some of greatest gospel songs, title, who wrote, artist that made popular.

Another composer who also worked closely with Mahalia Jackson was Doris Akers. Together they came up with their own collection of greatest gospel songs, title, who wrote, artist that made them popular becoming even more popular.  A successful gospel singer in her own right, Doris Akers became one of the leading female composers of the late 50s thanks largely to her collaborations with Mahalia Jackson who not only co-wrote with her, but was also the artist that made popular a great bulk of Akers’ songs. Akers who wrote one of the greatest gospel songs “Lord, Don’t Move The Mountain” is considered as of one the most prolific gospel composers of the recent century. Other title of her works are “God Spoke To Me One Day”, “Lead On, Lord Jesus”, “Trouble”, and many more.