HOMETOWN | Newport [1779-1848]

BIO | Shaw, who was blind at 21 after a childhood mishap and a bout with yellow fever, studied with organist John Berkenhead. He worked as a keyboardist, teacher, and singer; sold instruments and sheet music at a shop and by mail order; and had a publishing company. But his work as a composer is most notable, including sacred works and secular songs, many set to poems by Thomas Moore. The Music Hall of Fame folks say that in 1829, Shaw's "There's Nothing True but Heaven" "became the first national hit by an American-born musician" [bringing in a hefty $1500 in what would become known as royalties]. And Shaw was an innovator: the liner notes for The Flowering of Vocal Music In America notes that his compositions "look forward, stylistically, rather than backward."

HIT PARADE | Other Shaw toe-tappers included "Taunton," "Bristol March," and "The Bird Let Loose."

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