Ananias Davisson

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Ananias Davisson (February 2, 1780 – October 21, 1857) was a singing school teacher, printer and compiler of shape note tunebooks. Davisson was born February 2, 1780 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. He spent his last years living on a farm at Weyer's Cave, about 14 miles from Dayton, Virginia, and died October 21, 1857. He is buried in the Massanutten-Cross Keys Cemetery, Rockingham County, Virginia. Davisson was a member and ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church.

He is best known for his 1816 compilation the Kentucky Harmony (Harrisonburg, Virginia), which is generally considered the first Southern shape-note tunebook. Composer and publisher William B. Blake said it was "a book characteristic of that period, abounding in minor tunes." Other books published by Davisson were A Supplement to the Kentucky Harmony (Harrisonburg, Virginia: 1820), Introduction to Sacred Music, Extracted from the Kentucky Harmony and Chiefly Intended for the Benefit of Young Scholars, (Harrisonburg, Virginia: 1821), and A Small Collection of Sacred Music (Harrisonburg, Virginia: 1825). According to musicologist George Pullen Jackson, Davisson's compilations are "pioneer repositories of a sort of song that the rural South really liked." Perhaps his best-known tune is "Idumea," a minor tune very popular in Southern shape note circles and featured in the movie Cold Mountain.

In addition to his own tunebooks, Davisson also printed Songs of Zion by James P. Carrell (1821)

External links[edit]

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