Gussie Lord Davis

12/3/1863 - 12/18/1899

Inducted 2011


Gussie Lord Davis was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation. Gussie Lord Davis was the first commercially successful African-American composer of popular songs. One of his most memorable songs was “Irene Good Night”. Davis published over 300 songs of which one of his greatest hits written in 1896 “In the Baggage Coach Ahead” was inspired by a situation related to his job as a railroad porter. Following his work as a porter, he was a janitor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. While there he managed to pick up bits and pieces of musical knowledge and was soon writing ballads. The only musical training gained was from private study provided him by teachers at the Cincinnati Conservatory. Gussie Lord Davis work is listed by the Whittlesey File at the Library of Congress and “includes music that is included in the standard repertoire of today’s bluegrass, folk, and country musicians such as ”Footprints in the Snow”, “One Little Word” and "Baggage Coach Ahead”.