Of course, I was familiar with Dianne Wilkinson, but as I started reading I didn't realize exactly how many of my favorite gospel songs she had written. And I was excited to discover that she was a native Arkansan, like myself!
The first 23 chapters cover the stories of her life, growing up in Arkansas, getting her start in gospel music, her job working in medical records, her marriage and her friendships in the industry.
There are so many fun stories in the book about how she got started and pitched songs to groups. She makes it clear that's she's not shy when pitching her songs! I loved reading about her relationship with the Cathedrals and how her songwriting was a mainstay on their albums. She had a very special friendship with Roger Bennett and that's evident that he was a great influence on her life.
She also opens up about difficult times in her life, including her husband's battle with cancer. She lost him when he was only 43 years old. She talked about seeing him make the journey to Heaven and the awe that was in his face as he passed away.
The last chapter, which probably makes up a third of the book, lists many of her songs and descriptions of how she wrote them and how the artists found them. As fans, so many times when songs touch us and speak to us, we don't think about the birth of the song and what it took for the songwriter to write the song. To me, it's always so interesting hear how the songs came to be whether it was a line from a sermon or a personal testimony.
One of the things I love the most about the book is that after many years working in the industry, she makes it clear that she is still such a fan of this music! It's clear how grateful and humbled she is that she's been able to write songs and be such a successful songwriter in Southern Gospel.
Dianne wrote the book with the help of Daniel Mount. It was at his suggestion that the book came to be. He conducted several interviews with her and helped structure the book, but still very much made it come from Dianne and her own words.
Southern gospel fans will love this book. It's likely that you, like I did, will learn more about some of your favorite artists and discover that many of your favorite gospel songs were written by Ms. Dianne Wilkinson!