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4 February 2008

Historic Tuskegee University Choir
Presents Tribute Concert
Honoring Former Head of Music at Tuskegee

At 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 10, 2008, the 80-voice “Golden Voices Concert Choir” from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama will present a “Loving Tribute to William Levi Dawson” concert at The Episcopal Church of St. Michael of All Angels in Anniston. The “Golden Voices Concert Choir” is under the direction of Dr. Wayne Barr, Director of Chorale Activities at Tuskegee University.

The JSU A Cappella Choir will join forces with the Tuskegee Choir for the finale of the concert. A Cappella Choir is under the direction of Dr. Patricia Corbin, JSU Director of Choral Activities. Dr. Corbin will also be moderating the concert.

William Dawson was born in Anniston in 1899, the first of seven children born to George W. and Eliza Starkey Dawson. At the age of 13 he ran away from home to enter Tuskegee (Institute) University. He supported himself by manual labor and was a member of Tuskegee’s band and orchestra. He completed his education at Tuskegee in 1921.

Dawson studied composition and orchestration with Henry V. Stearns at Washburn College in Topeka, Kan., and studied counterpoint with Sir Carl Busch in Kansas City, Mo. In 1925 he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in theory at the Horner Institute of Fine Arts in Kansas City, Mo. In Chicago, at the American Conservatory of Music, he studied composition with Adolph Weidig and graduated in 1927 with a master’s degree in composition. Following his graduation, he studied with the distinguished composer and theorist Thorvald Otterstrom of Chicago.

In 1931, Dawson organized and headed the School of Music at Tuskegee (Institute) University. Under his direction from 1931 to 1955, the Tuskegee choir of one hundred voices gained international fame. Dawson is best known for his choral arrangements of spirituals such as "Soon Ah Will Be Done," "Ain’a That Good News," "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel," "There Is a Balm in Gilead," and many more, which have been standards of choral literature throughout the 20th-21st Century.

On May 12, 1989, he received the prestigious Tuskegee University Board of Trustees “Distinguished Service Award.” He later was honored by Tuskegee University as part of his 90th birthday celebration in September of the same year. Dawson died on May 2, 1990, and is buried in the Tuskegee University cemetery. His legacy lives on through the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir which he began and directed nearly a century ago.

This tribute concert is sponsored by the Brewtonville Heritage Foundation as an opportunity to inspire the young people of Anniston towards continued excellence. For more information about the Brewtonville Heritage Foundation, please contact Cathy Jean Peters, Program Director, Brewtonville Heritage Foundation, P. O. Box 1151, Jacksonville, AL 36265.

The Church of St. Michael and All Angels is located at 1000 West 18th Street, in Anniston. This concert is free and open to the public.

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