Faced with the choice, “Give up that Christian music or leave,” she hit the road
with a cheap guitar and cardboard suitcase, traveling throughout the South and
Midwest with a trio she formed named “The Gospel Echoes.”
Four years later she met Buck Rambo at a revival meeting, and they married
soon after. Two years later they welcomed daughter Reba Faye into the family
and eventually evolved into “The Singing Rambos,” a group that set a new
standard for close family harmony and the unique songs penned by Dottie that
quickly gained popularity across the country.
I met her during the 1970s, and soon afterward got to work with her on a celebrity
cookbook. During the coming years she went through severe back pain and
health problems, as well as the much-publicized breakup of her marriage to Buck
Rambo, but her faith held firm.
She sometimes said, “If you can talk you can sing, and if you can walk you can
go.” I’ll always remember that, for it was a motto that inspired others, including
myself, to go forward, no matter what might happen.
In fact, she confided more than once that it was through her tears and the painful
experiences in life that she wrote her most memorable songs.
She had those songs recorded by a “Who’s Who” of performers from virtually
every genre, from Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Johnny Cash,
Vince Gill, Pat Boone, the Oak Ridge Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ricky Skaggs, Bill
Monroe, Barbara Mandrell and so many more.
There have been many highlights. In 1994, the Country Christian Music
Association named her Songwriter of the Century. In 1999, “I Go To The Rock,”
performed by Whitney Houston in the movie, The Preacher’s Wife, was included
in the soundtrack which quickly became history’s top-selling Gospel recording.
And in 2000, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award from ASCAP, truly a
rare honor for a Gospel songwriter. In 2006 she was inducted into the Kentucky
Hall of Fame.
Her songs will undoubtedly live forever. I can still close my eyes and remember
her amazing guitar-picking ability and the songs that would touch the deepest
parts of your heart.
But what I remember most was her down-home hospitality. It’s what set her apart.
She was never too good to chat with fans. She was never too tired to take “just
one more picture” with well-wishers.
It’s that hospitality that made her the perfect Southern cook. That’s why I am so
excited to share a couple of the recipes she shared as we worked on the
DOTTIE RAMBO'S FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AND
...Perfect Southern Dishes from
the Legendary Songwriter
Dottie Rambo was born on March 2, 1934. She was tragically killed in a bus accident on
May 11, 2008, just before she was to be inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. In
between, she packed as much living, songwriting and ministry as possible, and along the
way she wrote more than 2500 songs, including numerous Grammy and Dove award-
winning classics such as “Sheltered in the Arms of God,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault
and Saw My Need,” “We Shall Behold Him,” “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before,”
“Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of That City,” and my personal favorite, “I Go to the
She had lots of hard times, too. Born into extreme poverty, at 12 years old, the Kentucky native, already a rising
country music performer, became a born-again Christian and instantly drew the ire of her father.
DOTTIE RAMBO'S FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
5 medium-size green tomatoes (fresh from the garden is best!)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
4 tablespoons bacon drippings (if you don't know what this is, you probably
won't like fried green tomatoes!)
Wash tomatoes thoroughly and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Dip tomatoes in
water or milk (some people like to dip the tomatoes in eggs), then roll in
Fry in bacon drippings, flipping once when golden brown. This Southern
dish is perfect as a meal by itself, or even better when served with fried or
DOTTIE'S SUNDAY-BEST CHICKEN
Fried chicken is always a Southern favorite, but this is an interesting recipe that combines the taste of both fried
and baked chicken with a wonderfully thick crust. (Serves 6)
1 cup shortening
1 whole fryer chicken
30 round snack crackers (such at Ritz®)
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut fryer just like your Mama taught you, in serving-sized pieces, then salt and
pepper the chicken.
If you have an old fashioned iron skillet, place it on top of the stove and melt the shortening over medium heat (if
not, a good frying pan will work).
Crush snack crackers with a rolling pin until fine like cornmeal (or for less mess, place crackers in a Ziploc® bag
while rolling), then mix with flour.
Mix milk, eggs and sugar in a small bowl (shallow is best), then dip the chicken pieces in that mixture before rolling
in the crackers and flour mixture. Make sure chicken is covered as thoroughly as possible, then place quickly in
the hot skillet. Brown chicken, then place in a large baking dish (square or rectangle) and place in pre-heated
oven. Bake for one hour, then sprinkle with paprika.
“Dottie Rambo was a special
and precious person. I always
loved her and her writing. I
think she was one of the most
incredible writers of our time...
or anybody's time!”