Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dottie Rambo: "Sheltered" for eternity

photo courtesy of
Aaron Crisler | The Judy Nelon Group


A very sweet, humorous and godly woman reached her final destination early Sunday morning. Dottie Rambo was an amazingly prolific songwriter whose work was recorded by Elvis...well, you could stop right there, but also Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Porter Wagoner and countless others, including her own family gospel group. She was killed in a bus crash during high winds on the way to a gig in Texas, and her fellow passengers were injured.

I cannot claim to be as aware of her as some can, but in the last few years I did grow to have great respect and affection for her. Some of her songs, such as "We Shall Behold Him" and "Behold the Lamb," were favorites of the church choir I sang with in college.

I saw her in person a couple of times here in Nashville. One was at an NSAI Christian writers' retreat, where she cracked everyone up with her commentary between songs as she performed in the round for the attendees. The other was when she was the featured speaker at a very recent NSAI Christian workshop (a monthly meeting). A relative handful of us listened in rapt attention as she shared about her life, sang her songs (inviting us to join her, which we did) and, after the "official" webcast interview was done, took questions. I asked her to share a story from her years of traveling with her group (one that wouldn't damage any reputations or endanger any careers!). Life on the bus is a staple of Southern Gospel life (as are the resulting stories), so it's only fitting, in a way, that she would go out the way she did.

She told how she was the first one awake one morning and got the bus driver to bring her a large dead rattlesnake they saw in the road. She hid it under her armrest and after her groggy traveling companions were up and milling around, she screamed and tossed the snake at them. She said they spoke in many tongues, but not the kind you'd hear at church! (Actually I can't remember her exact final line, but that was the gist of it--call it the "writer's embellished version"). She was, in a word, a hoot.

She had said she was working on a book about her life; I hope she had enough done for her people to release it. She had achieved much, and suffered much; she had quite a story to tell, and was old enough not to have to be so careful how she told it. I look forward to hearing more from her one of these days, one way or another. I expect to laugh. Loudly. And often.

1 comment:

Amanda Vilendrer said...

i was wondering what had happened to you, my blogging friend!