Book Review: Dianne Wilkinson – The Life And Times Of A Gospel Songwriter

Dianne Wilkinson has collaborated with Southern Gospel blogger and author Daniel Mount to write her autobiography, The Life And Times Of A Gospel Songwriter. The book is down-to-earth and conversational, completely in first person.

The first two-thirds of the book relates how Wilkinson grew up in Arkansas, her first exposure to music, her influences, her career outside of songwriting, and how she became one of the most in-demand writers in Southern Gospel.

The last third of the book features an appendix listing many of her most popular songs along with descriptions of the circumstances that led her to write each song. A few of those descriptions run for a couple of pages, but most are limited to half a page or so.

It’s obvious to any Southern Gospel fan who is paying attention that Wilkinson is one of this industry’s most consistent and respected songwriters. She averages more than one song per week. More than two-thirds of her songs have been recorded.

Her book reveals that Wilkinson is also a huge fan of Southern Gospel. She bubbles with praise for the way groups have recorded her songs over the years. She recalls which groups recorded her songs just the way she imagined them and which songs featured something unexpected.

It’s in this respect that Wilkinson offers a rare mix of confidence and humility. She expresses her gratefulness for her success, and yes, she is a fan, but you can tell she’s not the least bit shy about promoting her songs. Early on, of course there were butterflies when she approached her heroes asking them to listen to her song, but there are spots later in the book where she describes her fame among Southern Gospel artists with dignity and grace.

I didn’t imagine anyone so immersed in Southern Gospel would have a full career outside of the industry. Readers who don’t know her may be as surprised as I was to learn that Wilkinson is an expert in medical records. She hasn’t merely worked for doctors and hospitals; she has advised them on how to set up their systems. Her late husband, Tim, also worked in the medical field, which caused them to relocate several times over the years.

I wanted to close by mentioning Daniel Mount’s contributions to the book. The best compliment I can pay him is that his work remained transparent. Aside from a brief introduction, he stayed out of the way. I’m sure he was responsible for the look and structure of the book, but I was happy to see he was careful not to interfere by inserting any pesky notes, self-references or ham-fisted over-editing to “correct” any of Wilkinson’s own colloquialisms. Her unique characteristics are left intact as it should be.

I received this book 24 hours ago and read it from beginning to end. I highly recommend The Life And Times Of A Gospel Songwriter to Southern Gospel fans, particularly those who are most inclined to enjoy the music of groups like the Cathedrals, the Kingdom Heirs, Legacy Five and the Mark Trammell Quartet. It’s very likely that Dianne Wilkinson has written several of your favorite songs if you’ve followed those groups or a number of others.

RATING: 5 Stars


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Category Book Review, Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. Reply August 28, 20:25 #1 Brian

    GREAT!! WHOOO!!!!

    Congratulations, Mrs. Dianne, and Daniel, too! Thanks for the review, and I will say I completely concur!

    (Sorry…I get excited when some of my favorite people in the gospel music industry get the recognition they deserve!)

  2. Reply August 28, 21:35 #2 yankeegospelgirl

    She’s our sweet southern grandma. Love you Miss Dianne!

  3. Reply August 28, 23:34 #3 The Garms Family

    Wow! Awesome review of an awesome book! Can’t wait to get our copy. :)

  4. Reply August 29, 12:35 #4 quartet-man

    I wish I had realized Amazon already had it. I am looking forward to getting and reading this.

    • Reply August 29, 13:07 admin Author

      It just went on sale at Amazon a day or two ago. Daniel said it should be available for Kindle, Nook and in the iTunes store soon for anyone who prefers a digital copy.

      • Reply August 29, 13:08 Daniel J. Mount

        Since I haven’t said it publicly: Thank you for the review!

        It should have been available in Amazon’s Kindle store and Apple’s iOS store yesterday; however, there appear to have been processing delays in both cases. It’ll be available in the Nook store some time over the next month.

    • Reply August 29, 21:58 quartet-man

      Well, mine should be here Friday sometime. :)

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