Neglected for decades, the 'Negro Folk Symphony' by Anniston composer William Levi Dawson is reaching a new generation

Phillip Tutor, The Anniston Star, Ala.
·12 min read

Apr. 24—William Levi Dawson didn't achieve fame in Anniston. He left, in the dead of night, hiding in a train-car bathroom from an oppressive father who thought the intrinsic value of his teenage son's life came through labor, not a love of music and education.

But it was in Anniston where Dawson, born in 1899, first heard the rhythmic cadence of "Negro spirituals." It was in Anniston where Dawson witnessed the Fisk Jubilee Singers — most of them formerly enslaved workers — perform downtown. It was Anniston that introduced him to musicians from Tuskegee University, which he longed to attend.

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Phillip Tutor — ptutor@annistonstar.com — is a Star columnist. Follow him at Twitter.com/PTutor_Star.