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Posted on: February 7, 2024

Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Clarence Cameron White

clarence cameron white

Continuing our ‘African Americans in the Arts' series, we have a Clarksvillian that truly made history.

Clarence Cameron White  (August 10, 1880 – June 30, 1960) was a concert violinist and classical composer. 

Inspired by his mother, a skilled violinist in her own right, White took up the violin at 14 years old, receiving lessons from Joseph Douglass (grandson of famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass). 

He received his first instrument from his grandfather, of whom White said this: “(He was) a religious man...I was only six at the time, nevertheless, my grandfather pouted, "I'll give him the violin. But if he ever plays at a dance I'll take it back."

White went on to study around the world in New York, London and Paris, becoming one of the premier violinists of his generation.

He served as head of the string department for the Washington Conservatory of Music and was a founding member of the National Association of Negro Musicians. 

Fortunately, some original recordings of White’s music still exist. Click below to hear a performance of ‘Lament,’ composed and performed by Clarence Cameron White of Clarksville, TN.

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