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Lyricist Lucie Campbell Williams… Someone to know and remember

by PRIDE Newsdesk

Lucie Campbell Williams

During the early 1900s, Mrs. Lucie Campbell Williams was associated with the National Baptist Convention. Mrs. H. Henryne D. White remembers her as a strong resourceful person.

“Mrs. Williams was someone to know during those years,” White said. “She did not only work with the Convention, she was a wonderful musician and lyricist, writing a number of popular gospel songs, like, ‘Something Within.’
“She was also the president of the Negro Education Association. In that position, she became a very strong advocate for African American teachers. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to remember her.”

Lucie Eddie Campbell (Lucie Eddie Campbell-Williams) was born April 3, 1885 in Duck Hill, Mississippi. She was an African American composer of hymns. Born to Burrell and Isabella (Wilkerson) Campbell, she was the youngest of nine children. Following the death of her father, her mother moved to Memphis, Tenn. with her children.

Isabella Campbell wanted her children to receive an education as well as being exposed to the performing arts. Her older sister, Lora, was given piano lessons. Lucie listened attentively and practiced the lessons on her own.
Lucie Campbell was educated in the public schools of Memphis. In 1899, she was graduated from Kortrecht High School (later Booker T. Washington) as valedictorian of her class and was awarded the highest prize for her Latin proficiency. After completing high school, Lucie passed the teachers’ exam and began her teaching career at Carnes Avenue Grammar School.
Later, she earned the baccalaureate degree from Rust College in Holy Springs, Mississippi, and the master’s degree from Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College.

At age 19, Campbell organized a group of Beale Street musicians into the Music Club. Other members later were added to form a 1,000-voice choir that performed at the National Baptist Convention. At the organizational meeting of the National Sunday and Baptist Training Union Congress held in Memphis in 1915, ‘Miss Lucie’ was elected as music director. She penned songs for the Congress and wrote musical pageants exhorting the young to give their lives to Christian service. In addition to writing religious music for the Congress, she also wrote the Congress’ study lessons, as well as other instructional materials.

In 1919, Lucie E. Campbell published her first song, ‘Something Within,’ which was followed by more than 100 others, including: ‘The Lord is My Shepherd,’ ‘Heavenly Sunshine,’ ‘The King’s Highway,’ ‘Touch Me Lord Jesus,’ and ‘He Understands, He’ll Say Well Done.’ Campbell also introduced promising young musicians such as Marian Anderson and J. Robert Bradley to the world.
Miss Lucie’ introduced Marian Anderson to the National Baptist Convention and served as her accompanist. In 1955, Miss Lucie’s loyalty and dedication to the Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress was recognized when she was named as one of the principal lecturers during the 50th anniversary session held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In 1946, she was named to the National Policy Planning Commission of the National Education Association. She was elected vice president of the American Teachers Association and from 1941 to 1946 she served as president of the Tennessee Teachers Association.

Lucie E. Campbell was an activist for civil justice. She defied the ‘Jim Crow’ streetcar laws when she refused to relinquish her seat in the section reserved for Whites, and as president of the Negro Education Association she struggled with governmental officials to redress the inequities in the pay scale and other benefits for Negro teachers.
On January 14, 1960, Campbell married her lifelong companion, Rev. C. R. Williams. She dedicated her song, ‘They That Wait Upon the Lord,’ to her husband.

The National Sunday School and the Baptist Training Union Congress of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., showed its appreciation to its ‘first lady of music’ when it declared June 20, 1962 ‘Lucie E. Campbell Appreciation Day.’ While preparing to attend the celebration and banquet held in her honor, Campbell-Williams suddenly became gravely ill and was rushed to the hospital. After a six-month bout with illness, Campbell-Williams died on January 3, 1963, in Nashville. Her body was conveyed to Memphis and funeral services were held on January 7 at the Mount Nebo Baptist Church by pastor Dr. Roy Love.
(Much of the above information was taken from Wikipedia.)

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