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Lead Me, Guide Me

posted Sep 24, 2017, 11:53 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 24, 2017, 11:53 AM ]
Born in Brookfield, Missouri in 1923, Doris M. Akers started learning to play the piano at age six, and wrote her first song “Keep the Fire Burning In Me” when she was only ten years old. She went on to compose more than three hundred gospel songs and hymns, including “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place”.

In 1945 she moved to Los Angeles and befriended Mahalia Jackson. She also became director of the Sky Pilot Choir, an integrated choir whose fresh, modern arrangements of traditional spirituals got them featured on television shows and radio broadcasts across the country.

She wrote both the text and the tune of “Lead Me, Guide Me” in 1953 in Oakland, CA. Like many of the psalms, its text pours out in prayer the yearning of the individual for an intimate walk with God, who is asked to lead, guide, and protect the believer. The deeply personal stanzas emphasize that divine guidance is essential because of our lack of strength, our blindness, and Satan's temptations. Only God can lead us on the narrow path and through all the complexities and challenges of earthly life.

She was affectionately known as "Miss Gospel Music" because she was so admired and respected by everyone in the music industry, working with many of the pioneers of the Golden Age of Gospel Music. She mastered every aspect of gospel music including vocals, keyboards, choir directing, arranging, composing and publishing! Many of her compositions sold millions for other artists and evangelists, including Elvis Presley’s famous recording of “Lead Me, Guide Me”. In 1992, she was honored by the Smithsonian Institution as "the foremost black gospel songwriter in the United States", and was posthumously inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.