Did you know that Agnes Moorehead was a singer?  It blew me away – I remember her as the witchy mother-in-law, Endora, in “Bewitched”!  I enjoyed listening to this 1940 radio broadcast:

Today we celebrate the life and music of STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER!

Some music written in the 1800’s came and went with little or no lasting effect, but the music written by Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826 – January 13, 1864) lives on to this day!  Known as the “father of American Music”, he was known for his minstrel and parlor music.  I can’t imagine writing even one song, but he wrote over 200 songs, including “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”, “Beautiful Dreamer”, “Old Black Joe”, “Oh!  Susanna”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Old Folks at Home”, and my favorite, “Camptown Races”.

An excellent biography is the 1935 movie called “Harmony Lane”.  I was so pleased to find it on You Tube!

It’s so much more entertaining to watch a famous composer’s life story than to read about it!

History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.  – Dexter Perkins

Now, let’s hear some very talented musicians play this great man’s music!

I like this arrangement of “Oh!  Susanna”, but there’s one line that will bother me until the day I die – THE SUN SO HOT I FROZE TO DEATH…  seriously???

Camptown Races

That would lead one to believe that Mr. Foster was a betting man…  well – perhaps.  I guess this is one of my favorites because it’s the first Stephen Foster song I learned to play on the piano.  Throughout my life I’ve heard Jayhawkers refer to Kansas as DOO-DA, so the song just felt like a part of my childhood.

The state of Kansas and Americana go together it seems.  We’re comfortable with it.

 Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.  – Michael Crichton, Timeline

If I live to be 100, I’ll never play the piano this well – listen to this really cool BOOGIE arrangement of “Old Folks at Home”.  It makes me dizzy just watching him play!!!

Interesting choice for a recital piece…

Jennifer Warnes is one of my favorite singers – her strong, rich voice does justice to this Stephen Foster song, “Hard Times (Come Again No More)”.  I listen with my eyes shut and imagine the Civil War era…  let’s listen to it now.

And what mother did not sing this lullaby, “Slumber My Darling” to her child?  I know mine did. 

Let me know what you think!!!

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