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Doris Akers
Background information
Birth name Doris Mae Akers
Born (1923-05-21)May 21, 1923
Brookfield, Missouri, U.S.
Origin United States
Died July 26, 1995(1995-07-26) (aged 72)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Genres Gospel
Occupation(s) Composer, arranger, recording artist
Instruments Piano
Years active 1945–1995
Labels Score, Superb, Songs of the Cross, Imperial, RCA Victor, Christian Faith, Manna Records, Praise, Worship
Associated acts Simmons-Akers Singers, Sky Pilot Choir

Doris Mae Akers (May 21, 1923 – July 26, 1995) was an American Gospel music composer, arranger and singer. Known for her work with the Sky Pilot Choir, she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001.[1]

Early life[edit]

Doris Akers was born in Brookfield, Missouri to parents Floyd and Pearl Akers. She had nine siblings; Edward, Floyd, Evelyn, Marian, Donald, Nellie, Bernice, Harley, and Charles. The family moved to nearby Kirksville when she was five years old. She learned to play the piano by ear at age six wrote her first song, "Keep The Fire Burning In Me" when she was ten years old.[2] During the 1930s she formed a group with her siblings, Edward, Marian and Donald, who went by the name of "Dot and The Swingsters".

Bethel A.M.E. Church in Kirksville, Missouri, where Doris Akers first learned to sing and play Gospel music.

Early career[edit]

In 1945, at the age of 22, Akers moved to Los Angeles. She was recruited by Sallie Martin in 1946 as a pianist and vocalist for The Sallie Martin Singers. Martin was famous for touring nationally with Professor Thomas Dorsey to sell gospel sheet music and this collaboration early in her career gave Akers insight into the business end of the music industry. Two years later she left The Sallie Martin Singers and began her own group. In 1947, she published her first song with Martin & Morris, entitled "I Want A Double Portion Of God's Love".[citation needed]

In 1948, she teamed up with Dorothy Simmons and Hattie Hawkins and formed the Simmons-Akers Trio. They released many recordings on several labels: Score, Superb, Super, Songs of the Cross, Imperial Records, RCA Victor and label Specialty Records. Doris formed the "Simmons and Akers Music House" in 1948 to market and preserve some of her original religious compositions which grew out of her religious faith.[citation needed]

In the mid-fifties, Akers began an association with Manna Music, founded by Tim Spencer of the Sons of the Pioneers. In early 1957, Akers recorded her first solo album called, "Sing Praises Unto The Lord" (RCA Victor 1481). The album featured many of her early compositions such as, "I Found Something", "Lead On (Lord Jesus)", and "Jesus Is The Name". She was backed by her group the Simmons Akers Gospel Singers.[citation needed]

According to ASCAP documentation, in 1958, along with her friend Mahalia Jackson, Doris co-wrote the song, "Lord, Don't Move the Mountain", which sold over a million records. This composition also became a hit for another gospel superstar, Inez Andrews, over a decade later.

While in Los Angeles, she became director of the Sky Pilot Choir, an integrated choir, which was also featured on recordings, television shows, and radio broadcasts across the country. Her fresh, modern arrangements of traditional Negro spirituals drew large crowds from far and near and increased attendance at the church dramatically. They released three albums, "The Sky Pilot Choir", "The Sky Pilot Choir Vol. 2" (with the Sutton Sisters), and "Doris Akers Sings with The Sky Pilot Choir". Their organist on many occasions was a young Billy Preston. She ended her collaboration with the Sky Pilot Choir in 1965, but they reunited again in 1974 to record their fourth effort, "Doris Akers and the Original Members of the Sky Pilot Choir".

Akers continued recording for RCA Victor into the mid-sixties, cutting such albums as "Forever Faithful" (1963), a collaboration with The Statesmen Quartet entitled, "Sing for You" in 1964, and "Highway to Heaven".

After having lived in Los Angeles since the mid-forties, she moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1970. On the "He Touched Me" track of her album "All God's Children" she recounts an incident of playing the song at the St. James Pentecostal Church in that city. She continued recording, composing and traveling. An album, "The Artistry of Doris Akers", was released in 1979.

Later Career[edit]

In the 1980s Akers issued a new gospel album every year on a regional midwest label. Each album cover featured a new color photograph of the artist to let you know it was a current production. She also recorded a few albums in Canada which were not distributed in the United States, such as Crusade LP 2702 with Glad Tidings Temple's Harvest Time Choir.

In the United States she began recording for the Gaither label and appeared at some of their concerts and in TV productions, some fragments of which are currently available on YouTube.com. In the late 1990s she was featured in Bill Gaither's gospel videos Old Friends and Turn Your Radio On.[3]

She was affectionately known as "Miss Gospel Music" because she was admired and respected by everyone in the music industry over the years, she had mastered every aspect of gospel music including vocals, keyboards, choir directing, arranging, composing and publishing, she had worked with many of the pioneers of the Golden Age of Gospel Music, she had authored many standard gospel compositions, and she moved freely and successfully in all spheres of gospel music. Many of her compositions such as "Lead Me and Guide Me", "I Cannot Fail The Lord", "You Can't Beat God Giving", and "Sweet, Sweet Spirit", sold millions for other gospel artists and evangelists. She was interviewed by Lindsay Terry for the book: "Stories Behind 50 Southern Gospel Favorites" and she explained how the hit song "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" was revealed to her during a prayer session with one of her choirs before a church service.[citation needed]

Last years and death[edit]

Akers lived out the final years of her life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, serving as Minister of Music at Grace Temple Deliverance Center. She discovered she had spinal cancer when she visited the doctor after breaking her ankle in August 1994. Akers died July 26, 1995. She was survived by two of her sisters, Nellie & Bernice, and her brother, Donald Akers.[citation needed]

Legacy and Honors[edit]

Akers received many awards including back-to-back "Gospel Music Composer of the Year" in both 1960 and 1961. "Doris Akers Day" was held in Kirksville, Missouri in July, 1976. Akers was the headline act of the city's American Bicentennial celebration, with approximately 20,000 people attending an evening concert.[4]

In 1992, Akers was honored by the Smithsonian Institution as "the foremost black gospel songwriter in the United States". She was posthumously inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2011 Doris Akers was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.[5]


  1. ^ "Doris Akers bio". Manna Music Inc. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  2. ^ "Honored by the Smithsonian". Christian Broadcasting Network website. 2005. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  3. ^ W.K. McNeil, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  4. ^ A Book of Adair County History. Published by the Kirksville-Adair County Bicentennial Committee, 1976.
  5. ^ "Southern Gospel Music Association Salutes Hall of Fame Inductees for 2011". BMNN. October 10, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Akers — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
31033 videos foundNext > 

Bill & Gloria Gaither - Sweet Jesus [Live] ft. Doris Akers

Music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither performing Sweet Jesus (feat. Doris Akers) [Live]. (P) (C) 2012 Spring House Music Group. All rights reserved. Unauthorized ...

Doris Akers & Gospel Legends - You Can't Beat God Giving

The Gospel Legends minister with Doris Akers' "You Can't Beat God Giving" The pianist is the late, great Rev. Donald Vails and the organist is the late, great ...

Sweet, Sweet Spirit [Live]

Music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither performing Sweet, Sweet Spirit (feat. Doris Akers) [Live]. (P) (C) 2012 Spring House Music Group. All rights reserved.

Doris Akers and The Imperials - Every Time I Feel The Spirit

Another performance from the "Sing A Song For Heaven's Sake" video from 1966. Looks like they all had a good chuckle from 2:20 and on, LOL.

Doris Akers and The Akers Family Cedar Rapids, IA

Video was done in 2005 before ILMPI/In Loving Memory Photography became a business in 2012.

Doris Akers - He Touched Me

Doris sings a Bill Gaither classic and puts her own twist on it. Love this cover!

Doris Akers - I Cannot Fail The Lord

Doris Akers singing her song " I Cannot Fail The Lord" back up by the Masters V made up of Hovie Lister, James Blackwood, Jake Hess, JD Sumner and some ...

Doris Akers - Lord Don't Move The Mountain

Doris singing a song she co-wrote with her close friend, Mahalia Jackson. From her 1960 album, "Doris Akers Sings". Words by Doris Akers. Music by Mahalia ...

Doris Akers - I Believe

This is really rare and the youngest I've ever seen Doris on video. From the "Sing A Song For Heaven's Sake" video.

Doris Akers and The Statesmen - Sweet, Sweet Spirit

Probably the most well known song she ever penned.From their 1964 album, "Sing For You". There's a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place And I know that its the ...

31033 videos foundNext > 

45 news items

Red River Radio

Red River Radio
Tue, 19 Apr 2016 08:58:37 -0700

... story was a source of inspiration for African-American slaves yearning for freedom; this is followed by a collage of five versions of the spiritual “Go Down, Moses,” as sung by Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Doris Akers and Louis ...
St. Augustine Record
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 17:30:00 -0800

The Smithsonian Institute called this song by Doris Akers a “national treasure.” Akers, born into an African-American family in Brookfield, Missouri in 1923, was one of 10 children. She started writing songs at age 10 and has written more than 300 ...

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Dispatch News
Fri, 17 Jul 2015 21:41:15 -0700

The Rev. D. Edward Chaney, pastor of Second Baptist Church-Las Vegas, was the featured speaker. After he was introduced, he entered the pulpit to an updated version of the Doris Akers song, “Lead Me, Guide Me.” He sang the lead with a powerful voice.
The Floyd County Times
Thu, 23 Jul 2015 06:53:50 -0700

Doris Akers to Candice Meade; property not listed. Vera Allen to Christopher Francis; property located on Beaver Creek. Jack Bartley to Jack Bartley and Tammy Bartley; property not listed. Jack Bartley to Jack Bartley and Tammy Bartley; property not ...


Sun, 09 Oct 2011 21:17:52 -0700

Bill Gaither accepted from Hall of Fame member Ray Reese for the late Doris Akers noting, "I feel honored to accept this for Doris... I loved her music so much," he said. Gaither referred to a performance he did with her on piano in one of his ...


Fri, 25 Apr 2014 10:31:22 -0700

“The hymn that comes to my mind is “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” by Doris Akers. She's a Missouri woman. She was an African American woman who was born in an era when African American women had a very tough time. But she prevailed, and has written some ...
UI The Daily Iowan
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 21:52:30 -0700

The Dailey and Vincent tour bus was midway between Indiana and Wisconsin at 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 3 when the band's four singers — clad in T-shirts and patterned pajama pants — decided to throw together an a cappella arrangement of the Doris Akers ...

Waco Tribune-Herald

Waco Tribune-Herald
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 22:38:05 -0800

And the CD set closes with “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” a song that the Waco composer points out someone else wrote — Doris Akers — though many know his arrangement of it. Baylor University chaplain Burt Burleson pastored Dayspring Baptist Church for 13 ...

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