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Lanier, Sidney (03 February 1842–07 September 1881), poet and musician, was born Sidney Clopton Lanier in Macon, Georgia, the son of Robert Sampson Lanier, a lawyer, and Mary Jane Anderson. Early in life, Lanier showed remarkable love and aptitude for music, but this talent was encouraged only as a social grace, for the southern genteel tradition looked with disfavor upon a man’s following the arts as a profession. After he graduated in 1860 from Oglethorpe University in Milledgeville, Georgia, his family assumed he would follow his father’s example and practice law. Lanier intended instead to follow a scholar’s life in Europe, but this dream was cut short by the Civil War. In 1861 he joined the Macon Volunteers, serving in the signal corps and then on a blockade runner until his capture; while imprisoned at a federal camp at Point Lookout, Maryland, he contracted the tuberculosis that eventually killed him....

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Willson, Meredith (18 May 1902–15 June 1984), lyricist/composer, conductor, and flutist, was born Robert Reiniger Meredith Willson in Mason City, Iowa, the son of John D. Willson, a lawyer and businessman, and Rosalie Reiniger, a teacher. Both of Willson’s grandfathers were considered early settlers by more recent immigrants, adding to the family’s local prominence. Meredith appeared in his mother’s Sunday school musicals as early as the age of four and at twelve sang a solo as Don (“a shepherd”) in the local production of his sister Dixie’s musical, ...