Born: June 25, 1892, St. Jo­seph, Mis­sou­ri.

Died: Ap­ril 20, 1980, Lit­tle­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Buried: Sleepy Hol­low Ce­me­te­ry, Con­cord, Mas­sa­chu­setts.




Katherine was the daugh­ter of Max­well Gad­dis Da­vis and Jess­ie F. Bar­ton.

She wrote her first com­po­si­tion, Sha­dow March, at age 15.

She gra­du­ated from St. Jo­seph High School in 1910, and stu­died mu­sic at Well­es­ley Col­lege, Mas­sa­chu­setts. Af­ter gra­du­ation, she con­tin­ued at Well­es­ley as an as­sist­ant in the Mu­sic De­part­ment, teach­ing mu­sic the­ory and pi­ano.

At the same time, she stu­died at the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­to­ry of Mu­sic in Bos­ton. Da­vis al­so stu­died with Na­dia Bou­lan­ger in Pa­ris, and taught mu­sic at the Con­cord Aca­de­my in Mas­sa­chu­setts, and at the Sha­dy Hill School for Girls in Phi­la­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Many of her ov­er 600 com­po­si­tions were writ­ten for the choirs at her school. She is prob­ab­ly best re­mem­bered for her Christ­mas piece The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy.

Originally ti­tled The Ca­rol of the Drum, she wrote it in 1941, and the Har­ry Si­me­one Cho­rale re­cord­ed it in 1958. Da­vis didn’t know of the re­cord­ing un­til she heard it on the ra­dio in De­cem­ber 1959.

Davis be­longed to the Am­eri­can So­cie­ty of Com­pos­ers, Au­thors and Pub­lish­ers, and re­ceived an hon­or­ary doc­tor­ate from Stet­son Uni­ver­si­ty, De­Land, Flo­ri­da. She left all the roy­al­ties and pro­ceeds from her com­po­si­tions, which in­clude op­eras, cho­rus­es, child­ren’s op­er­et­tas, can­ta­tas, pi­ano and org­an piec­es, and songs, to Well­es­ley Col­lege’s Mu­sic De­part­ment, where the funds sup­port mu­sic­al in­stru­ment ins­truc­tion.