Addison W. Lively: The Influential Musician

24 Oct

Greg Cella

James Casey

English 110

24 October 2012

Addison W. Lively

Addison W. Lively was a historical figure in the African American community.  In 1855, a number of influential African Americans, including Lively, were called from every state across the east coast to attend the National Colored Convention.  Many of these African American leaders were abolitionists, property owners, escaped slaves, or even wealthy African Americans that were born free into educated families in the North.  During this convention, the elected delegates discussed numerous political and social issues that specifically pertained to the equality and freedom of African Americans nationwide.  This particular convention was called during the time leading up to the start of the Civil when slavery and racial discrimination were at their peak.  Delegates discussed and negotiated many different actions African Americans could partake in to gain equality in America.  Addison W. Lively’s name was not mentioned in the logging of activities and discussions during the convention, so it is assumed that he was more of a spectator to all the conversations that went on at the convention.

Addison W. Lively was born in Virginia in 1829 to Addison and Susan Lively.  It is unknown whether he was born into slavery or if he was born free.  Historical records state that he presided at 723 Lebanon Street for most of his adult life, which is now Lebanon Avenue, in northwest Philadelphia.  It is known that Lively was married to Mary S. Lively and together they had four daughters, Celestine, Jane, Rebecca, and Sarah.  Unfortunately, Celestine, Jane, and Rebecca all died before their second birthday, while Sarah died unmarried at the age of 28. Addison Lively was a musician in Philadelphia, and it ultimately was his excellence at his craft that earned him his reputation in Philadelphia and delegation at the National Colored Convention in 1855.

Addison W. Lively was a delegate representing the state of Pennsylvania at the convention.  While many of the delegates were nominated for their work as politicians or abolitionists, Lively made his impact on the African American community with his talents in music.  He was a member and leader of the choir at the prominent Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   The Shiloh Baptist Church was one of the most famous churches among the African American community during this time.  Many famous African American leaders including John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King have attended service there in the past.  During his time at the church, Lively worked with the renowned musician Elizabeth Greenfield, also famously known as “The Black Swan”.  Greenfield was a famous African American musician who traveled all around the world performing.  After years on the road performing, Greenfield reunited with “her original accompanist” and took special interest in Lively’s choir, helping him organize it and singing recitals at the church.   Also, Lively was accompanied by Jeremiah Asher, the pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church during this time in history, at the National Colored Convention in 1855.  Even though Asher was more well-known than Lively among African Americans, the eminence of the Shiloh Baptist Church, the reputation of Lively for his excellence in music, and his leadership ultimately facilitated his nomination of delegacy to the convention.

By 1860, Lively slowed his political work and took up teaching music along with organizing the choir at Shiloh Baptist Church. Addison W. Lively died of natural causes on December 31, 1877.  Although he did not write any famous literary works or have any memorable speeches, his reputation and great influence on the African American community is demonstrated by his nomination to the National Colored Convention of 1855.  Addison Lively was not particularly one of the most famous and decorated African American leaders of his time, but his hard work and excellence in his field of work shows that anyone can make a difference, no matter what field of study or profession you take up.  Addison W. Lively was an extremely significant in the African American community and is remembered for being a quality individual and inspiring many people with his great work.



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