Born: Circa: 1820
Died: Circa: 1880
Period: 19th Century
Wallis Willis, sometimes written as Wallace Willis, was a Native American of the Choctaw tribe. Later in life he became a freedman but prior to the Civil War, he and his wife Aunt Minerva were the slaves of Britt Willis in Mississippi, who in turn sent them to the Spencer Academy. In 1871 Reverend Alexander Reid, the Academy Superintendent, heard them perform at a recital of the Jubilee Singers and was impressed by the Willis's singing which heRead more felt was much better than that the Jubilee Singers. Reid supported the group which toured the United States and Europe. Among many songs, Wallis Willis created the melodies and words to 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' and 'Steal away to Jesus' which have since become classics of the Negro Spiritual. Read less
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