Thomas A. Dorsey can rightly be said to be the father of gospel; his most famous song was "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," but the first song he wrote in the genre was "If I Don't Get There."
According to Eileen Southern in the Second Edition of The Music Of Black Americans: A History
, Dorsey was inspired to write the song after attending the National Baptists Convention in 1921 where he heard the Reverend A. W. Nix perform the hymn "I Do, Don't You
Dorsey himself wrote: 'In 1921 at the National Baptist Convention in Chicago, I heard a Professor Nix and saw him raise that huge audience singing a religious song, "I Do, Don't You." I was converted in that meeting and said that is the type of music I would like to do.'
Up until then, Dorsey had been a "secular" musician, playing with jazz bands, demonstrating songs in record stores, arranging, and the like.
Alexander Baron - London, England