From the Archives, April 8, 2018

Boxwell Music, Part I

We thought it might be fun to spend this month focusing on one of the favorite aspects of camp: camp music. By camp music, we don’t mean Music merit badge or even camp songs, though we know how well you can all sing! We want to look at those musicians who graced Boxwell’s campfires and camp life.

The earliest musician we know of is none other than camp cook Walter Whittaker from the Linton and Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwells. It is hard to know how musically inclined Whittaker actually was, simply because the reports tend to report him as singing “Negro spirituals.” The reviews were always positive, but it is hard to not see this phrasing as the racial stereotyping common in the period.

Nevertheless, Whittaker sang regularly at Sunday morning services (camp ran Monday to Monday) and often at campfires. While we don’t have a photo of Whittaker singing, we do know several of his songs. His repertoire included “Hallelujah, Little David,” “Steal Away,” and the incredibly uncomfortably titled song, “Some Folks Say That a Nigger Won’t Steal.” On the upside, Whittaker also sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” tying modern Boxwell to the Boxwells of the past through music…


Camp cook Walter Whittaker at the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell, about 1940

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