William Levi Dawson

Black History Month Lecture/Concert Celebrates Composer William Dawson

Kathy DeanASOTA, News

MOBILE, Ala. – The Alabama School of the Arts at the University of Mobile will celebrate Black History Month in February with a special lecture and concert on the life and works of composer William Levi Dawson.

The University of Mobile Chorale and soloists from the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts will perform several of Dawson’s works while professor and author Mark Malone, Ph.D., shares the fascinating tale of the composer’s early life, quest for education, rise to success at Tuskegee Institute, achievement of national fame as a composer, and retirement years spent conducting choirs throughout the United States and around the world.

A Celebration of the Life and Work of William Levi Dawson will be presented Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Dorsett Auditorium on the University of Mobile campus. Admission is free. For information, visit umobile.edu or contact the Alabama School of the Arts at 251.442.2383.

Dr. Malone

About the Speaker

Malone’s book, William Levi Dawson: American Music Educator, will be published later this year. He is a veteran music educator with over 46 years of classroom experience and has presented at the NAfME Convention as well as state music educators conferences. An expert in choral sight-reading, Malone has written sight-singing materials for several states. As curriculum designer for the Mississippi Arts Commission, he has created arts integration lesson plans that use music, dance, theatre, visual arts and media arts to enhance understanding of traditional core subjects such as math, science, social studies and language arts.

About the Composer

William Levi Dawson was born just prior to the dawn of the 20th Century and encountered challenges along the road to becoming a nationally recognized composer, choral arranger, conductor and professor of music at Tuskegee Institute. 

“Under his direction, the Tuskegee Choir achieved a national reputation by singing to open Radio City Music Hall, presenting concerts for Presidents Herbert Hoover and franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as performing over nationwide radio broadcasts and appearing on television,” Malone said.

Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, only the second extended musical work to be written by an African American, was premiered by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in both Philadelphia and New York City. His arrangements of spirituals, the original folk music of African Americans enslaved in America during the antebellum period, quickly became highly sought-after choral works.

“Some of these works were published by established companies, but Dawson soon wisely utilized the steam press at Tuskegee Institute to publish his own compositions, thereby reaping more of the publishing profits,” Malone said.

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.