Ford T. Dabney was an American, pianist, conductor, composer, songwriter, and recording artist. He was born in Washington, D.C. into a family of professional musicians his uncle, Wendell Phillips Dabney (1865-1952), being a distinguished music educator. He was taught piano by his father and studied theory, harmony, and composition with Charles Donch, William Waldecker, and Samuel Fabian. Dabney was appointed by President Noro Alexis of Haiti as that country's court musician, a post which held between 1904 and 1907. He later celebrated this period with his Haytian Rag
(1910) and Porto Rico Rag
(1910). After various vaudeville activities he became friends with James Reese Europe
and played a part it setting up the legendary Clef Club, a union of African-American musicians, becoming its musical director and president. Together they became involved with Vernon and Irene Castle, the most prominent dancers of the day, eventually writing some eight compositions for them. These included Castle Maxixe
andCastle Perfect Trot
. Dabney's career declined after the Europe's death. He continued to live well however on the royalties from his most successful song, Shine
(1910) which was recorded by Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Bing Crosby amongst many others.