Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Festival: Villa Rica

Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Festival

Celebration to honor Villa Rica's hometown legend Thomas A. Dorsey


The Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Festival will be held on June 23rd and 24th 2017. The festival features some of the best artists in the genres of gospel, blues and jazz.

The festival is an annual event which honors the legacy of one of Villa Rica's most famous residents, known as the "father of black gospel music". Dorsey was born in Villa Rica on July 1, 1899 and died on January 23, 1993 at age 93. He is buried at the Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Among the most well known songs he wrote were "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", which was performed by Mahalia Jackson and it was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Aretha Franklin sang  "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at Mahalia Jackson's funeral in 1972. Another composition, "Peace in the Valley was performed by Elvis Presley.



Kerwin L. Felix Band

The Kerwin L. Felix Band will play Friday Night


The festival kicks off on Friday, June 23rd at The MILL Amphitheater in Downtown Villa Rica with live jazz at 7pm. Performing will be the Kerwin L. Felix Band and the Justin Varnes Jazz Quartet. The Kerwin L. Felix Band is one of KLF Pro Entertainment's premiere live entertainment bands. They perform a variety of styles of music including pop, Motown, R&B, Rock, Funk, Jazz, current hits, and more.


Tim Rogers and The Fellas



Saturday, June 24th will feature an afternoon Gospel Service at Mt. Prospect Baptist Church at 3pm, where Dorsey learned to play the piano. The church is located at 133 Thomas Dorsey Drive in Villa Rica. The performers will be Tim Rogers & The Fellas, a Stellar Award wining Gospel group. The Arkansas-based group has a reputation of being one of the most notable Gospel groups in the gospel music industry today.



Live Exchange Party Band



The gospel service will be followed by a blues show at The MILL Amphitheater at 6:30pm, featuring the Live Exchange Party Band, a 7 piece band that performs traditional jazz and today's hits! Barbecue and other vendors will be available. Fireworks will close out the festival after dark.


Admission is free. For more information you may call 678.840.1160. You may also visit the festival's Facebook page.


Thomas A. Dorsey Birthplace Festival

The Historic Marker is located on the side of Bankhead Highway across the street from the Villa Rica Elementary School


Lyrics to Two of Dorsey’s Greatest Songs

In August 1932, Dorsey lost his wife, Nettie Harper during childbirth. He wrote, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" in response to the death of Nettie and his infant son.

"Peace In The Valley" 1937

I am tired and weary but I must toil on
Till the Lord come to call me away
Where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light
And the night is fair as the day

There'll be peace in the valley for me some day
There'll be peace in the valley for me
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be
There'll be peace in the valley for me

There the flow'rs will be blooming, the grass will be green
And the skies will be clear and serene
The sun ever shines, giving one endless beam
And the clouds there will ever be seen

There the bear will be gentle, the wolf will be tame
And the lion will lay down by the lamb
The host from the wild will be led by a Child
I'll be changed from the creature I am

No headaches or heartaches or misunderstands
No confusion or trouble won't be
No frowns to defile, just a big endless smile
There'll be peace and contentment for me

"Take My Hand, Precious Lord" 1932

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home.

When my way grow drear,
Precious Lord, linger near.
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call,
Hold my hand lest I fall.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand.
Take my hand, precious Lord
Lead me home....

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