Arnold Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore was one of America’s most popular blues singers in the 1940s before becoming a renowned religious leader, radio announcer, and gospel singer. He served as pastor of several churches in Mississippi and Louisiana, including the Bethel A. M. E. Church and Lintonia A. M. E. Church in Yazoo City. Moore, who was born in Topeka, Kansas, on November 8, 1913, spent much of his career in Memphis, Kansas City, and Chicago. He died in Yazoo City on May 19, 2004.
Moore was the tuxedoed toast of the blues world when he strode from the gambling table to the stage of Chicago’s Club DeLisa one December night in 1948. But when he tried to sing, nothing came out, until, finally, he broke into the old spiritual, “Shine On Me.” According to a columnist for Chicago’s African American newspaper the Defender, Moore “ran off the stage and about seven blocks in the snow screaming and yelling ‘I’m saved.’” This was but one of many dramatic and colorful moments in the career of Moore, who entered the ministry and remained a newsworthy national personality in all his varied fields of endeavor.