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TGN Remembers Dorothy Love-Coates

Birthdate: January 30, 1928

Died: April 9, 2002



Born Dorothy McGriff in Birmingham, Alabama, her early years were hard, (she later described them as "the same old thing"). Her minister father left the family when she was six, divorcing her mother thereafter. Dorothy began playing piano in the Baptist Church at age ten, then joined her sisters and brother in the McGriff Singers several years later.


Dorothy quit school to work "all the standard Negro jobs" available in Birmingham in the 1940s: scrubbing floors and working behind the counter in laundries and dry cleaners. She began singing with the Gospel Harmonettes— then known as the Gospel Harmoneers— in the early 1940s. On September 9, 1944, She married Willie Love of The Fairfield Four, one of the most popular quartets of the early years of gospel, but divorced him shortly thereafter. On September 24, 1959, She married Carl Coates of the Sensational Nightingales.


Coates rose to stardom in the 1950s as a member of The Original Gospel Harmonettes. With her "raggedy" voice and preacher's fire she could outsing the most powerful hard gospel male singers of the era. She was also a notable composer, writing songs such as "You Can't Hurry God (He's Right On Time)", "99 and a Half Won't Do" and "That's Enough".

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