Peace in the Valley
|"Peace in the Valley"|
|Song by Mahalia Jackson|
|Songwriter(s)||Thomas A. Dorsey|
"Peace in the Valley" is a 1937 song written by Thomas A. Dorsey, originally for Mahalia Jackson. The song became a hit in 1951 for Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys, reaching number seven on the Country & Western Best Seller chart. It was among the first gospel recordings to sell one million copies. Foley's version was a 2006 entry into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.
The song achieved enormous celebrity during Elvis Presley's third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on January 6 of 1957. Before an audience estimated at 53 million viewers, Presley closed the show by dedicating the song to the 250,000 refugees fleeing Hungary after the 24 and 31 October 1956 double-invasion of that country by the Soviet Union. Because he also requested that immediate aid be sent to lessen their plight, the appeal in turn yielded contributions amounting to US$6 million, or the equivalent of US$49.5 million in today's dollars. Over the next 11 months, the International Red Cross in Geneva, with the help of the US Air Force, organized the distribution of both perishables and non-perishables purchased with the above-mentioned funds (Swiss Francs 26.2 million, at the then 4.31 CHFR-US$ exchange) to the refugees in both Austria and England where they settled for life. On October 15, 1957, Presley's first Christmas album, containing a master studio recording of the song, was released, topping the Billboard Charts for 4 weeks and selling in excess of three million copies, as certified by the RIAA on 15 July of 1999. Because of these extraordinary developments, István Tarlós, the Mayor of the city of Budapest, in 2011 and as a gesture of belated gratitude, named a park after him, as well as making him an honorary citizen.
Eventually, the song became a country-pop favorite and was recorded by Little Richard on his 1961 Quincy Jones-produced gospel album The King of the Gospel Singers; Connie Francis on her 1961 album Sing Along with Connie Francis; George Jones on his 1962 album Homecoming in Heaven; Johnny Cash on his At San Quentin live album; Loretta Lynn; Dolly Parton; Screaming Trees, as a B-side to their "Dollar Bill" single; Ronnie Milsap; Art Greenhaw with the Jordanaires, Tom Brumley and the Light Crust Doughboys for the Grammy-Nominated album starring Ann-Margret titled God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions, and Faith Hill, for a concert special.
"Peace in the Valley" was sung by Eddie Clendening, portraying Elvis Presley, in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet, which opened in New York in April 2010. Eddie Clendening also covered the song on the Million Dollar Quartet original Broadway cast album.
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- MDQ Merchandising LLC (2010). “Song List” and “Performing Credits”. In Million Dollar Quartet (p. 5) [CD booklet]. New York City: Avatar Studios; and Chicago: Chicago Recording Company.
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