Little Women, Little Drummer Boys, they all happened here

23 Dec
The Little Drummer Boy was written by a Katherine K. Davis of Concord, Mass., in 1941.

The Little Drummer Boy was written by a Katherine K. Davis of Concord, Mass., in 1941.

Katherine Kennicott Davis

Katherine Kennicott Davis

Hi and welcome back SK fans!

I am really enjoying my tree filled with cat toys. What’s even better are these cool, colorful packages MAD and My Publicist are placing on the floor around it. Some of the packages have this awesome thin, tissue stuff bursting out of their tops. It is so much fun to bat my paws at these sparkly papers, then explore the insides. I am loving anniversaries.

Besides celebrating my two wonderful years living with MAD, this week, we continue to celebrate accomplished women. Today, the Eve of Christmas Eve, I want to introduce you to Katherine Kennicott Davis.

Who? You ask.

Well, if you’ve ever had the ear worm “Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum” squirming through your head during the Christmas season, you can thank Kay Davis – as she was better known.

Kay is the composer of the Christmas carol “The Little Drummer Boy.”

And get this, Kay wrote this international sensation in 1941, 73 years after I wrote, “Little Women,” which also opens up with a Christmas scene focused on poverty (I’ll be talking to my lawyer!)

While my intellectual property case winds its way through the court system, I will share a few more tidbits about Kay and “The Little Drummer Boy,” starting with this WOW!!!! factor.

The house on Lexington Road in Concord where Kay Davis composed "The Little Drummer Boy" in 1941.

The house on Lexington Road in Concord where Kay Davis composed “The Little Drummer Boy” in 1941.

Drum Roll Please: Kay wrote “The Little Drummer Boy” while she was living on Lexington Road in Concord.

I wrote “Little Women,” while I was living on Lexington Road in Concord. There must have been something in the well water.

Here are some others:

  • Kay was born in Missouri in 1892 and died in Littleton, Mass., in 1980.
  • She studied then taught music at the all-womyn/women Wellesley College, to which she bequeathed all her royalties. (womyn spelled the way Wellesley College spells it.)
  • She later taught music at Concord Academy, then an all-girls school, and focused on composing songs and chorales for the female voice.
  • She had written hundreds of compositions before and after “The Little Drummer Boy.”
  • Supposedly, the song came to her in a dream while she was trying to nap.
  • She first entitled it “The Carole of the Drum.”
  • “The Little Drummer Boy” has been recorded 220 times in all genres and in 7 languages.
  • The Von Trapp Family of Sound of Music fame was the first to record “The Little Drummer Boy” in 1955.
  • It became an instant hit.
  • Harry Simeone Chorale also had a hit recording “The Little Drummer Boy.”
  • Harry tried to claim the song as his and even swiped royalties from Kay.
  • The quiet, musical gal got caught up in a nasty legal battle.
  • She won!  But it took years and lots of cash.
  • Wellesley College makes more than $1 million a year in royalties from “The Little Drummer Boy.”
  • The money funds musical education for college womyn.
  • Besides being a fabulous Christmas Carole, musically speaking, it sends the perfect holiday message: The best gifts come from the heart.

Pa rum pum pum pum, xo, LMA

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6 Responses to “Little Women, Little Drummer Boys, they all happened here”

  1. Carol December 23, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Love, love, love learning about women I did not know, Ms Alcatt! Kay Davis sounds almost as cool as you! MAD and Your Publicist are mighty brave, providing you with so many very interesting toys right now. Aren’t you exhausted?

  2. onespoiledcat December 23, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    I say WOO HOO for the well water if it can inspire such wonderfulness!

    Hugs, Sammy

  3. sued51 December 23, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Interesting post, LMA! I did not know who wrote the song, but now I do! Merry Christmas (and Happy Anniversary) to you!

  4. Bruce Thiesen December 23, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Nobody (well, speaking for myself, that is…) wants that “Pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum” anywhere near. Any time of the year. However, now that SK brings me the background and importantly, informs me about the tidy pickup for the Wellesley College scholarship fund, maybe I can loosen up about the annoying tune a little more. I can think about the upside of its wintertime cultural assault, when I hear it.

    Enjoy opening week of year 3. And the next one, too. And all those that follow.

  5. LB December 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    As always, you make learning fun!
    Merry Christmas, Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

  6. Sheila December 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    The Little Drummer Boy has always been one of my favorites but I had no idea the composer lived right in MA. Thank you for introducing us! Hope you have a fun new year with lots of love and laughter and old friends bearing margaritas!

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