Dottie Peoples’ name embodies the spirit of who she is; a “people” person who continually reaches out to others to uplift, encourage, and inspire. Her music is a call to action, not for one audience, but for everyone, and her style is all her own, though her powerhouse singing has given her the moniker “the gospel Patti LaBelle.”
She has also been honored with comparisons to Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Shirley Caesar in presence, legendary status, and vocal power.
One of ten children, Dottie grew up in Ohio, spending summers in Alabama with her grandmother, Big Mama, and her sister Juanita. Big Mama was a fixture in their old southern church, singing from the choir to her granddaughter Dottie in the front pew.
During the service on those steamy Alabama Sundays, Big Mama would lean over to tell Dottie, who leaned in with big eyes, wide as saucers, and listen to her grandmother promise that one day she would be a singer too. Dottie would respond, “I wanna be like Mahalia Jackson.”
Of course, the rest is history. Those many summers spent ‘livin’ at the church’ with Big Mama took root in Dottie’s heart and her love for singing and sharing the gospel through music turned into her passion and career for life.
While many gospel singers grew up singing with family members, Dottie is quick to point out that her family is no Winans act. Each of the siblings grew up to do different things, leaving Dottie with the mantle of family songstress.
She sang throughout high school and it was after a performance in Dayton, OH, that the World’s Greatest Storyteller, Dorothy Norwood, invited her to join her on the road. Given permission to leave by her mother, she traveled with Dorothy, who was currently enjoying a big hit with “Gotta Be Some Rain In Your Life.”
The tour was significant to Dottie not only because it was her first opportunity to sing in a big concert setting, but because Dorothy’s group was opening for none other than rock and roll giant The Rolling Stones and Pop icon, Stevie Wonder. This experience impacted Dottie tremendously and when she returned home, she continued to perform and work on her music.
Work was an important aspect of Dottie’s life as a young adult as she knew that her father, an employee for GM, needed help providing for her younger brothers and sisters, while her mother took charge of the domestic areas of their family life. Her original plan was to continue her music studies at college, however, she lacked the funding to go to school and did not win the scholarship she applied for.
Undaunted, she continued to sing and work, sure that God was blessing her every step of the way so that she could find ways to continue.
Dottie experimented with different careers including: working at a hospital, at GM with her father, at a law firm and briefly singing jazz in some of the nation’s top nightclubs. Realizing that Jazz was not God’s will for her, she relocated from Ohio to Atlanta, GA and once settled, Dottie joined Salem Baptist Church, home to renowned orator, Reverend Jasper Williams Jr.
Eventually she joined the music staff as a Director and worked in the tape ministry department of the church; in the late seventies Dottie was hired as General Manager of Church Door Records which was owned and operated by the church. She also acted as producer for the pastor, the Salem church choir, and for her first two solo efforts, Surely God is Able (1984) and Is It Worth It All (1987) for the church record label, Church Door Records.
During her stint at Church Door, in 1990, Dottie developed her own radio show, “The Dottie People’s Showcase,” which aired on Atlanta radio’s WAOK for six years. After fourteen years as GM for Church Door Records, Herb Lance, from Revelation Records (a record store), went to Alan Freeman, CEO of AIR (Atlanta International) Records, proclaiming she had too much talent to be managing a record label.
This move was the big break she needed to get her foot in the door as a professional performer and has led her to many successes. Her first cut with AIR, Live At Salem Baptist Church, earned her, her first Stellar nomination for Best Traditional Female Solo Performance and her 1994 release, On Time God reached #1 on gospel charts, sweeping the Stellars in four categories, the GMWA Awards in three and earned her a nomination for Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Award.
Earning nominations and awards in every category available to her, including Best Traditional Gospel Album (Dove Award, 2000) to Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year (Stellar Award, 2004) and other accolades, such as being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and earning the prestigious James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award (GMWA) has not disrupted Dottie’s personal connection with people.
Her reputation for warmth and compassion precedes her, as she routinely embraces fans with the love and sincerity of a close friend.
Although 56 prestigious awards, nominations, and recognitions fill her resume in addition to countless television appearances, tours and special performances (The Power ’98 tour, singing the National Anthem at Atlanta Braves and Hawks games), Dottie’s mission and principle focus remain intact. Her ministry is people.
She is quick to give credit for her notoriety to the people who have helped her to rise to public acclaim (Bobby Jones, Alan Freeman, radio announcers, fans, her musicians, crew and staff), and speaks tirelessly of wanting to reach others with a timely message of deliverance, the saving grace of God, hope and mercy.
On The Collection: Songs Of Faith, Hope & Love (1998), she compiled her most requested inspirational ballads. The liner notes included testimonies from people deeply touched by her songs, among them this emotional letter: “I was on drugs for eleven years and had no hope in life at all. I tried to kill myself several times. I sold my body for drugs. I stole, cheated and did everything for my habit. I found my life falling apart and having nowhere to go. I had a 9mm pulled on me, but by the grace of God the bullet didn’t come out of the barrel. I heard your song on the radio, and I knew God stepped in “On Time.” This will always be my song of praise.”
Dottie Peoples is one of the most well-loved, respected, and honored vocalists in the industry today. She sings through the rafters, in any range, and fills a concert hall with vibrant energy and genuine class. Her 2005 release, Live in Memphis, He Said It, further proclaims her testimony and underscores the reason why she has risen to such legendary stature in such a short time.
And now Dottie Peoples, the 3 time Grammy nominee, Dove, Soul Train and multiple Stellar Award winner including the 2010 Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year is poised to bless the masses once again! Affectionately known as “The Songbird of The South”, Dottie has maintained an iconic presence in gospel music for over twenty years and now she brings us the first single I Got This from her latest effort, “I Got This – LIVE!” With known classics to include the ever popular “On Time God, Testify, and God Can, to name a few, Ms. Peoples now takes us on a journey delivering her signature traditional style with a contemporary flair and a message for all.