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Thomas A. Dorsey and the Rise of Gospel Music

During her time at Spelman College, attorney Binta Robinson participated in the New Life Inspirational Gospel Choir (New Life) of Atlanta. Today, Binta Robinson maintains a keen interest gospel music. Below are a few facts about one of the most noteworthy contributors to the genre, Thomas A. Dorsey.

Raised in the agrarian South, traditional African American spirituals were a part of Thomas Dorsey's Baptist upbringing. These songs commonly featured rhythms drawn from the continent of Africa, call-and-response formats, and religious themes. When he journeyed to Chicago, the artist combined some the elements of those spirituals with the secular blues and jazz tunes that he heard in the city. Multiple nervous breakdowns led him to make a personal vow to compose sacred music.
Later, he teamed up with vocalist Mahalia Jackson to further develop the sound and share it with the public through performances. Dorsey, along with other like-minded musicians, went on to found the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, which still exists today.

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