Life of gospel music pioneer to be chronicled in Heritage Museum’s play on June 28 and 29
by Sally Litchfield, MDJ Features Editor
June 22, 2013 12:00 AM | 1222 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print

From left, Gregg Robinson of Allen Temple AME Church, P. JoAnn Jackson of Zion Baptist Church and Maestro Kenneth Lowe of Greater Piney Grove Baptist will participate in the production of ‘The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow!’ in celebration of Black Music Month.  <br>Staff/Samantha M. Shal
From left, Gregg Robinson of Allen Temple AME Church, P. JoAnn Jackson of Zion Baptist Church and Maestro Kenneth Lowe of Greater Piney Grove Baptist will participate in the production of ‘The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow!’ in celebration of Black Music Month.
Staff/Samantha M. Shal
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On June 28 and 29, the Old Zion Heritage Museum hosts the Marietta premiere of “The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow!” at the Marietta Middle School Auditorium. The play celebrates Black Music Month and the anniversary of the birth of Thomas A. Dorsey, who is regarded as the father of gospel music.

“The play chronicles the life of Thomas A. Dorsey,” said Josetta Walker, a founding member of the museum who has served on its Board of Directors since its inception.

The Museum collaborated with The National Association of Christian Theatre and The Educational Cultural Company to host the Marietta performance. Local singers JoAnn Jackson, an alto soloist at Zion Baptist Church, and Gregg Robinson, coordinator of music for Allen Temple AME Church in Woodstock, and others will join the national cast.

“We know the people in the local community will want to come see (Jackson and Robinson) as well,” Walker said. “If you enjoy music, not just gospel music, it is one of those productions where you will see good acting and you will hear outstanding singing and you will want more. It is absolutely superb,” said Walker, who is married to Louis Walker. They have been residents of Marietta since 1965 and both retired from Marietta City Schools.

Dorsey, who was born in Villa Rica, moved to Atlanta and eventually Chicago. A pianist, composer and arranger, he worked with many prominent blues singers such as Ma Rainey.

“(Dorsey) was a musician. In those days, blues was a popular kind of music in the black community. He could make a living doing what he loved,” Walker said.

Dorsey experienced a religious conversion that changed his focus.

“He got the message from God that he was supposed to sing for him — church music instead of the blues. What Dorsey did was take the blues sound and put it with sacred words,” she said.

Dorsey was a prolific writer. Among his well-known songs is the title of the play, “The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow” and “Precious Lord, Take my Hand” that he wrote while grieving the death of his wife.

“(Dorsey) had a hard time at first with people and churches accepting his type of music because they thought it sounded like the blues, and they didn’t want it in their churches,” Walker said.

People eventually received his music.

“He really caught people’s attention. The lay people were the ones who started to like his music and convinced the clergy that this was OK to have it in our churches,” she said.

“We’re expecting large numbers of people at the performances,” Walker said.

Order tickets at dorseyplayatl.eventbrite.com/# or visit www.zbcmarietta.org.

The auditorium is at121 Winn St., Marietta.

Show times are June 28 at 7:27 p.m. and June 29 at 2:07 pm.



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