Few people possess a voice that can usher people into the presence of God with more joy and immediacy than Dottie Peoples. Blessed with a soulful, passionate voice and an unbridled love for the Lord and her fellow man, Peoples is an electrifying presence on stage that turns any concert into an all out revival.
Peoples has a gift for creating thought-provoking, life-affirming music that resonates deeply with audiences throughout the world. It’s a calling she discovered early in life. One of 10 children, Peoples grew up in Ohio, but spent summers in Alabama with her grandmother who everyone lovingly referred to as Big Mama. She encouraged her young granddaughter’s dream of growing up to sing like Mahalia Jackson. “I did my first little ‘ole song around eight or nine years old,” Peoples recalls. “I remember singing and running out of the church. I got scared because everybody was shouting.”
Young Dottie continued to sing throughout high school and her distinctive voice always garnered attention. After seeing her perform in Dayton, Ohio, the legendary Dorothy Norwood enlisted Dottie to join her on the road. “She asked my mom if I could go and momma said yes,” Peoples remembers. “Dorothy had a song called ‘Gotta Be Some Rain In Your Life,’ and that was a hot song for her. The Rolling Stones’ lead singer fell in love with that song and asked Dorothy to travel with them and open up the tour. That’s where I also met Stevie Wonder. He was on the tour with the Rolling Stones.”
After touring with Norwood and the Rolling Stones, Peoples returned to Ohio. She continued singing and developed quite a reputation as a jazz vocalist. “I sang jazz all the way up until I moved to Atlanta in ’79,” she says. “I joined Salem Baptist Church and one of the ladies in the choir, told the minister of music, ‘This girl can sing!’ He asked if I’d like to try a song. The first solo I did was called ‘If You Move Yourself.’ I sang that song that Sunday morning and people were shouting. It changed my whole life because I stood there and realized that I was blessing people. Burdens were being lifted. I knew I didn’t want to sing jazz anymore. I just want to sing for the Lord. I got back to my roots and I’ve been singing gospel ever since.”
In addition to singing, Peoples is also an astute businesswoman. She served as general manager of Church Door Records and also launched her own radio show. After 14 years with Church Door, Peoples signed with AIR Records and took her career to another level, earning her first Stellar Award nomination. Her 1994 release on AIR, “On Time God,” was a pivotal release that rocketed to No. 1 on the charts and earned her four Stellar Awards and a nomination for Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Award. Peoples has continued to garner more than 50 industry accolades, including the 2010 Stellar for Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year.
Peoples is on a mission to reach people for Christ and that interaction with listeners is a precious connection to her. “What makes me love what I do more than anything is people,” she says. “So many folks come up to me, some of them crying, some of them just hugging me, some of them so excited,” she says. “Just to know that you’ve touched their lives and blessed them like that – it’s a feeling that you never ever get over.”
Dottie Peoples has always had a love for people and a passion for sharing the gospel through music, and when she takes the stage she has a joy that is absolutely contagious. You can’t help but feel that God himself is smiling when Dottie sings.
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