Walter Pond Ganus (1881-1956)
Walter Pond Ganus was one of six children of a farmer and his wife who had homesteaded in Alabama. After his father died in 1894, Walter became the man of the house. At age sixteen, he rode a mule to a job teaching in a singing school which was being conducted in the area. When he returned, he presented his mother with his earnings and thus began his career in music.
Walter and his brother Stancel attended music classes at Livingston College in Livingston, Alabama which is now called the University of West Alabama. Walter worked for and became part owner of the A. J. Showalter Publishing Company. By 1914 he had formed his own Tuscaloosa Music Company. In 1916, he spoke at an organizing meeting of southern music publishers and became second vice president of the Southern Song Book Co-operative Association during its first year.
Walter and his brothers, Stancel (S.A.) and Floyd Ganus, were active in singing and teaching music. Along with another member, they operated the Ganus Brothers Quartette for several years in the late 1920s. The group recorded four songs on the Vocalion label in 1928.
Walter’s four sons also had a Ganus Brothers Quartet which toured and conducted singing schools throughout the southeast. Walter often accompanied the younger quartet on piano and other instruments for their performances. This group continued into the early 1940s.
After relocating to Birmingham, Walter created the W. P. Ganus and Sons Music Company. His companies published church hymnals, songbooks featuring popular gospel songs and music theory books. Walter authored and edited several editions of these books. Walter and at least six members of two generations of the family were songwriters. They contributed numerous songs for the company’s books. The family also operated a music store and had their own line of musical instruments.
In 1936, the most prominent publishers of shape note hymnals established the National Singing Convention and held their first event in Birmingham, AL. W. P. Ganus was among the original members. Walter was prominently featured in Ottis Knippers's Who's Who Among Southern Singers and Composers (1937).