Home Equipping Leaders African American Celebrating Black History Month #21

Celebrating Black History Month #21

Doris Mae Akers was born in Brookfield, Missouri, May 21, 1922; she died in Minneapolis on July 26, 1995. She composed her first song at age ten. Even though she lacked formal music training, she went on to a successful career conducting choirs throughout the U.S.A. and composing gospel songs. Noted hymnologist William J. Reynolds quotes Akers as describing her ability to capture the attention of the congregation as "just letting go and releasing the Spirit of God" (Carlton Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, p.715).

Akers' songs have been recorded by many artists and groups, including the Stamps-Baxter Quartet, Bill Gaither, George Beverly Shea, and Mahalia Jackson. Manna Music presented her with a Gold West Plaque in recognition of "Lord, Don't Move the Mountain," a song she co-wrote with Mahalia Jackson, achieving one million record sales. She has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution, which has labeled her songs and recordings "National Treasures." In 2001 she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. It was Akers’ custom to pray with her singers prior to worship or concert, and on a Sunday morning in 1962, she told her singers, "You are not ready to go in." They had already prayed, but she felt they had not prayed enough that morning, so they began to pray again, this time with renewed fervor. Realizing that the pastor and congregation were waiting for them to start the service, she said to the choir, "We have to go. I hate to leave this room and I know you hate to leave, but you know we do have to go to the service. But there is such a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place." She had written down the new song by the next day.

See other Black History Month Celebrations here.