THE subject of this sketch, Anthony Johnson Showalter, was born at Cherry Grove, Rockingham County, Va. May 1, 1858, son of John A. and Susanna (Miller) Showalter. He received his education in the public schools. His first musical training was in the singing schools taught by his father. When but a lad he assisted his father in his singing classes.
In 1876 he attended his first normal music school at New Market, Ya., conducted by Profs. B. C. Unseld and P. J. Merges. He then taught a number of sing- ing schools, and later attended two more sessions of the same school. To still better prepare himself for the profession he attended a session of Dr. Geo. F. Root's normal at Erie, Pa., and Dr. H. R. Palmer's normal at Meadville, Pa. He now entered the music field with renewed energy and enthusiasm, teaching classes and conducting normals in various parts of the country.
In 1880 Mr. Showalter's first music book, "The Singing School Tribute," was published. In 1882 his "Harmony and Composition" was published, the first work of the kind by a Southern author. He has published two other works on the same subject since, and many song books. In 1884 he moved to Dalton, Ga. Realizing the advantage of being able to publish his own productions, he established what has developed into The A. J. Showalter Company, one of the most thriving publishing houses in the South.
Mr. Showalter has been sole author, principal author and associate author of about sixty books, of which more than two million copies have been sold. Among his most successful books perhaps are : "Class, Choir and Congregation," "Work and Worship," "Glad Evangel," "Perennial Songs," "Rudiments," "Complete Rudiments," "Song Land Messenger," "Revival Choir," "Highway to Heaven," "Our Thankful Songs," "Singing for Joy," "Hymns of Glory," '' Showalter's Gospel Songs, No. 3," "Sweetest Praise," "Day Dawn Songs," "Onward Songs," and "Revival Glory."
Among his many gospel songs none are more popular than "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." This song has been published in many books, and sung wherever the story of Jesus has been told.
Mr. Showalter has edited The Music Teacher now The Music Teacher and Home Magazine, for twenty-five years. He has held sessions of his Southern Normal Musical Institute in about a dozen different states and many teachers of the South and Southwest have attended this school.
In 1895 he availed himself of the opportunity to go to Europe with an excursion party, which proved to be both pleasant and profitable to him.
In 1905 Professor Showalter directed the "all day singing," a feature of the State Fair held at Atlanta, Ga. A chorus of several hundred voices joined in rendering a number of the good old gospel songs.
While writing and teaching music might be called the life-work of Professor Showalter, he is also quite a successful business man with diversified interests. He is president of the A. J. Showalter Company, Dalton, Ga., and the Showalter-Patton Company, Dallas, Texas. He is also treasurer and manager of the Perry Brothers Music Company, Chattanooga, Tenn. Besides his musical interests he is vice-president of the Cherokee Lumber and Manufacturing Company of his home town, and a director in the Interstate Life and Accident Company of Chattanooga, Tenn., also a trustee of the Georgia Fruit Exchange, of Atlanta, Ga.
He finds recreation in spending some time in looking after his farm and extensive peach orchards near Dalton.
In 1881 Mr. Showalter was married to Miss Callie Walser, of Texas. They reside in Dalton, Ga., and have seven children, some of whom are splendid musicians. He is an active member in the Presbyterian church, also choir leader in his home church.
Professor Showalter has made the most of his opportunities, and success has crowned his efforts. "There is no excellence without great labor," and his work shows for itself that he has been a busy man. May he continue to render service in sacred song that will help some burdened soul to "Lean on the Everlasting Arms."
*Note. Since the above sketch of Mr. Showalter was written, there have been some very radical changes in both his business and family relations.
Source: Biography of Gospel Songs and Hymn Writers by J. H. Hall, 1914