Gospel Music

Who was Lucie (Lucy) Campbell Williams?

In 1919 Lucie (Lucy) Campbell Williams (1885–1963) published “Something Within” and became the first black woman composer to have a gospel song published. In her lifetime she wrote more than eighty songs—a number of them became classics in the field of gospel. These included “Jesus Gave Me Water,” “There Is a Fountain,” and “In the Upper Room with Jesus”; her songs for liturgical use included “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made.” Campbell, along with Charles A. Tindley (1851–1933) and Thomas Andrew Dorsey (1899–1993), is considered a gospel music pioneer. Campbell, who had a great influence on Tindley, selected songs for his hymnal, Gospel Pearls. Born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, Campbell graduated from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1927, and received a master of science degree from Tennessee State University in 1951. A self-taught musician, she played the piano and organ at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Memphis. In 1909 she began to organize young people’s choirs, and by 1916 she was musical director of the Sunday School and Baptist Young People’s Union. Her songs are still heard at Baptist conventions and at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. In addition to her musical talent, Campbell was a dynamic speaker.


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