by Sue O'Hare Attalla.
While William Christopher O'Hare stayed mainly behind
the scenes of the ragtime era, never to become a Ben Harney,
Ernest Hogan, or Kerry Mills, a Joe Lamb, James Scott, or Scott
Joplin, for many years he made his mark in the music world. Suffering
the fate of having his name all but forgotten, remembered primarily
by ragtime pianists and ensembles who have performed and recorded
"Levee Revels" and by some ragtime fans who have attended
their concerts and bought their recordings, W. C. O'Hare was
an experienced teacher and director, a diversified composer and
talented arranger and orchestrator, a humorous and determined
man with a life-long appreciation for the varied traditions of
African-American music ...
... As early as the mid-19th century, Shreveport
publicly appreciated and even granted some special privileges
to its black musicians. Municipal records dated Tuesday, June
26, 1849, indicate that the city council approved the "Ethiopian
Band's" request "to play & practice on their instruments"
within the town limits until 11:00 p.m., provided they had "a
written pass or permission from their master or owner" and
they "notify constable of the time and place of assembly."
Nearly four and a half decades later, slavery officially abolished,
the Shreveport Times carried a brief article expressing
the late-night staff's appreciation of the local black talent:
"The TIMES was tendered a very pleasant serenade, which
was thoroughly enjoyed, by the Johnson and Markham orchestra.
This city can boast of several colored musical organizations,
vocal and instrumental, and among them this orchestra, which
contains some long known and excellent musicians."