John Samuel Graves was born in Savannah, Georgia. He is the sixth male in six generations to carry that name. He spent his early childhood in Bluffton, South Carolina, then a small town in the Lowcountry near Hilton Head Island, where he spent many hours listening to the compositions, arrangements and conversation of his father’s first cousin, Luke Peeples, a collector and arranger of Carolina folk songs and Lowcountry Negro Spirituals. Mr. Graves has just completed editing The Collected Works of Luke Peeples. Please click on the “Luke Peeples’ Music” tab above for more information.
A book about the life and works of Luke Peeples, A Gullah Psalm, written by Estella Saussy Nussbaum and Jeanne Saussy Wright, has just been published. The book is available from LP Collections, 12 East Jones Street, Savannah, GA 31401. Jeanne can be emailed at LPcollections12@gmail.com.
Mr. Graves studied piano in his formative years, and again for a short time in early college. However, he virtually abandoned his musical pursuits for a long time, only to return to them after retiring from a career in the home building industry. In 1996 he married R. S. Perry, a Little Rock artist, writer and classical musician. Her book, Charles Ives and the American Mind, was published by Kent State in 1972. Her love and study of the art song gradually rekindled her husband’s interest in voice and the piano, and in 2002 he took a life altering class on song writing from Dr. Robert Boury, resident composer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. That was the beginning of an odyssey that produced the songs in Mr. Graves’ songbook, A Star Fell and Other Songs. His song, A Star Fell, is the genesis of the name for this website. More information about this book is on the Welcome Page of this site, and more discussion on the songs in that book will be forthcoming. Nine of the songs in his book (including A Star Fell) were written to poems by his mother, Florence Rubert (Graves) Rossi. Her Collected Poems were published in 2007. (See graveshouse.org for more information about Florence Graves and the Graves family of South Carolina. See also A Story of Two Houses on graveshouse.org.)
Mr. Graves graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. degree in English and a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate in 1966. Much later, in December of 2010, he graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a B.A. degree in music theory and composition. He and his wife, Sandra, make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they share an old English style cottage built in 1925 with their beloved dogs, Bella, Foxy and Sandy. (One of his songs, Lost Dog, was composed about his now deceased English Setter, Angel.)
Mr. Graves’ other website, jsgraves.musicaneo.com, contains more information about the composer and his works. All of the songs in A Star Fell and Other Songs can be viewed and purchased individually at jsgraves.musicaneo.com. Some of the songs posted there also contain sound files so that visitors can hear how the songs actually sound. Additionally, his piano and choral music can be found at jsgraves.musicaneo.com.
Videos of performances of Mr. Graves’ compositions, Widows and Cry Sad Bird, are posted on youtube.com. Just go to youtube.com and search for j. s. graves. Mr. Graves is a published author under the name of John Samuel Graves, III. He composes music as J. S. Graves. Please email him with questions, comments or correction at firstname.lastname@example.org.