Melvin W. Davis
1906 - 1996
Melvin W. Davis, voice teacher and choral director, taught at Emmanuel Missionary College (now Andrews University) from 1949 to 1956 and at Walla Walla College, now University, from 1956 to 1965. He started his music career at Lodi Academy in California, where he taught from 1939 to 1949. He had previously worked at Porter Hospital in Denver. During his time at LA he completed a B.A. at the College of the Pacific at Stockton, California, in 1949.
During his years at EMC Davis he pursued graduate study at Northwestern University and Chicago Music College, graduating with an M.Mus. in vocal pedagogy from the latter in 1954. He studied choral conducting under John Finley Williamson at Westminster Choir College and also did summer work with noted choral directors Fred Waring, at Indiana University, and Robert Shaw.
While at EMC he started the Collegians, a widely traveled and successful choral group that later became the AU University Singers. Davis was a popular person on campus, known affectionately as "Mr. D" by his students. The yearbook was dedicated to him in 1956, the year he left to direct the choral program at WWC.
When he arrived at WWC, he created a select choral group of 26 and started doing more secular music. In an attempt to create a new image for the choral program, he purchased formal attire for the select group. A younger, more intense director than his predecessor, Clarence Dortch, Davis conducted rigorous rehearsals and insisted on detail and finesse. After leaving WWC, he worked in the finance office at Portland Adventist Medical Center in Oregon and directed the PAMC chorale.
Sources: Walla Walla College newspaper The Collegian, "Local Choral Organizations Add to dignity of Campus," 13 December 1956; Doris Bush, "Chorale Program Closes Music Week," 16 May 1957; Obituary, Andrews University alumni magazine Focus, Summer 1997.