First DVD from Fred Waring's America to premiere

January 27, 2009

University Park, Pa. — The first DVD release from Fred Waring’s America, “The Best of Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians: Volume 1 – God’s Trombones and other favorite spirituals featuring Frank Davis,” will premiere in the Penn State University Libraries at 2 p.m. Feb. 11, in Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library.

This DVD premiere is particularly significant as the featured baritone, Frank Davis, was first African-American to perform on “The Fred Waring Show.”

In the one-hour DVD, Davis performs as the preacher in a Waring fan favorite, “God’s Trombones,” the stirring James Weldon Johnson narrative poem set to music by Roy Ringwald. The DVD also includes a selection of favorite spirituals and folk songs performed by Frank Davis and the Waring Glee Club.

These stirring performances were features of “The Fred Waring Show,” a groundbreaking musical variety show from the golden days of early television, which ran from 1949 until 1955 and was nominated for two primetime Emmys. Davis was discovered by Fred Waring in 1952, when he was recommended for an appearance on the Varsity Showcase portion of the television show, and was then hired as a singer (bass) and soloist with the Waring Glee Club.

The Varsity Showcase performance is featured on the DVD with Davis performing “Jesus Walked this Lonesome Valley.” Other songs include “Old Man River,” “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child,” “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More,” “Let My People Go” and a number of others. These stirring performances of timeless music will certainly inspire and delight listeners and viewers of all ages.

At the premiere, Fred Waring’s America Coordinator Eileen Akin will talk about the DVD and how it was made. Former Fred Waring’s America Coordinator Peter Keifer, a personal friend of Davis, will also talk at the event.

The DVD was produced by Akin and edited by Bill Wallace of WPSU-TV. It will be distributed exclusively by Shawnee Press Inc. ( and Fred Waring’s America, part of Penn State's Special Collections Library. Fred Waring's America is located at 313 Pattee Library and online at

For information, contact Eileen Akin at (814) 863-2911.

  • Frank Davis was the first African-American to perform on Fred Waring's TV show.

    IMAGE: Fred Waring Collection at Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010