Legendary southern gospel songwriter and singer Dottie Rambo died in a possible weather related accident about 2 a.m. May 11, 2008 just outside of Springfield, Missouri. She was traveling on her tour bus in route to sing at the Fountain of Life Church in North Richland Hills, Texas near Fort Worth on Mother’s Day. Early accounts indicate that others on the tour bus are hurt, some possibly in critical condition. It is not confirmed at this time if there were any other fatalities.
Dottie Rambo was 74 years old at the time of her death. Joyce Reba Luttrell was born in Madisonville, Kentucky during the depression. Her parents were extremely poor. Her biography states that she wrote her first song when she was about eight years old. As the story goes, she was playing near a creek when she began to sing a song with words and music that she had never heard. Apparently she had not even attempted to compose them and was so surprised at what had just occurred that she ran home to tell her Mom. Her mother asked Dottie if she was sure she had not heard the song on the radio. Dottie’s response was, “No, it just came from me.”
Dottie learned to play the guitar from listening to the Grand Ole Opry and by the age of ten, she was composing songs and singing on the local radio stations. Dottie Rambo’s career really began at the age of twelve when the famous singing governor of Louisiana, Jimmy Davis, paid her $3000 for recording rights. Dottie also made a commitment to Christ when she was twelve years old and vowed that she would only write and sing Christian music. That was not a welcome thought to her father, who was not a Christian. He had high hopes of her becoming a well-known country music star. Over her career, Dottie stayed true to her vow and turned down many opportunities to record other types of music. In the world of Christian music, however, Dottie Rambo is legendary. She has composed over 2500 songs. Many of those songs Dottie recorded herself. When Dottie Rambo sang a song she wrote, the emotion and feeling of the song was palpable. Her relationship with Jesus was apparent with every note and every syllable. Most well known Christian singers have recorded at least one of Dottie Rambo’s songs. However, it is probably a little known fact that many secular artists have also recorded songs that were written by Dottie Rambo.
Just a few of the many artists who have recorded songs written by Dottie Rambo are Andrae Crouch, Elvis, Pat Boone, Barbara Mandrell, The Oakridge Boys, Sandi Patty, Dolly Parton, Bill and Gloria Gaither, Johnny Cash. Whitney Houston, and Vince Gill.
Her career was at its peak in the 1960s. In 1967, Dottie and her gospel group were one of the first to go to Vietnam and sing for the U. S. troops. In 1968, Dottie Rambo won a Grammy for the Best Soul Gospel Performance for The Soul of Me. In that same year, Billboard Magazine gave Dottie Rambo its “Trendsetter” award for having an all black choir on her recording.
Some of the more recognized songs written by Dottie Rambo include: Behold The Lamb, We Shall Behold Him, I Call Him Lord, Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome, In The Valley He Restoreth My Soul, Remind Me Dear Lord and The Church Triumphant. Dolly Parton recorded Stand By The River. Whitney Houston won a Dove for herself and for Dottie Rambo when she recorded I Go To The Rock for the movie The Preacher’s Wife in 1999.
Dottie Rambo also was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame-once with her group The Rambos and once as a solo artist. In 1994, she was awarded Songwriter of the Century by the Christian Country Music Association.
Dottie Rambo endured a lot in her life. For most of her career, she suffered excruciating pain from several ruptured disks that at one time resulted in paralysis in her left leg. She knew crushing financial loss because of an office manager who stole from her. Through it all, Dottie Rambo remained faithful to her Lord and witnessed through her words and music. She has left the world a great legacy and will be greatly missed. I have always been a great fan of hers, but it is not with a heavy heart that I write this today. Right about now, Dottie Rambo is having a great big party and a wonderful reunion. She has finally met the Love of her life face to face and she is finally feeling no pain.