Old Folks at Home


Old Folks at Home
"Old Folks at Home"
Oldfolksathome.jpg
1851 edition
Music by Stephen Foster
Lyrics by Stephen Foster
Published 1851
Language English
Form Strophic with chorus

"Old Folks at Home" (also known as "Swanee River") is a minstrel song written by Stephen Foster in 1851. It was intended to be performed by the New York blackface troupe Christy's Minstrels. E. P. Christy, the troupe's leader, appears on early printings of the sheet music as the song's creator. Christy had paid Foster to be credited, something Foster himself had suggested though later regretted. It has been the official state song of Florida since 1935.[1]

According to legend,[1] Foster had most of the lyrics but was trying to give a name to the river of the opening line and asked his brother to suggest one. The first suggestion was "Yazoo" (in Mississippi), which despite fitting the melody perfectly, Foster rejected. The second suggestion was "Pee Dee" (in South Carolina), to which Foster said, "Oh pshaw! I won't have that." His brother then consulted an atlas and called out "Suwannee!" Foster said "That's it exactly!" He wrote it in immediately (misspelling it "Swanee" to fit the melody).[2] Foster himself never saw the Suwannee or even visited Florida, but the popularity of the song initiated tourism to Florida to see the river.

Controversy

This song is seen by some as racist toward black Americans for its imitation of Black English Vernacular (the song is sung from the perspective of a black man), with its original lyrics referring to "darkies" and "a-longin' for the old plantation."[1] Foster himself supported the North during the American Civil War and sympathized with African-Americans. In 1997, former state representative Willy Logan presented an unsuccessful motion to have the song replaced. For many public performances, words like "lordy," "mama," "darling," "brothers" or "dear ones" are often used in place of "darkies."

As the official state song of Florida, it had become a tradition for the tune to be performed as part of the inauguration ceremony for incoming Florida governors. However, Charlie Crist decided not to include it in his 2007 inauguration ceremony. In its place, Crist decided upon "The Florida Song," a composition written by Charles Atkins, an African-American jazz musician born in Daytona Beach who now lives in Tallahassee.

In May 2007, the Florida Music Educators Association began working in partnership with Senator Tony Hill and Representative Ed Homan to present an initiative in which all of Florida's citizens were invited to submit their entries for a new state song. From the press release: "The process officially begins Tuesday (May 15) for Florida's musicians to submit their entries for 'Just Sing, Florida!', the search for a new state song." The Florida Music Educators' Association (FMEA) created a new web site, http://justsingflorida.org/ , which contained rules and submission guidelines. On January 11, 2008, the song "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)" was selected as the winner and will be brought up before the state legislature as a possible replacement for "Old Folks At Home". [3] The Florida legislature considered the issue and ultimately adopted "Where The Sawgrass Meets The Sky" as the state anthem and kept "Old Folks At Home" as the state song.

References

  1. ^ a b c Center for American Music. "Old Folks at Home". Center for American Music Library. http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/ofah.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  2. ^ "Florida State Song The Swanee River". Netstate. http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/song/fl_swanee_river.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  3. ^ "Lauderdale teacher wins state song vote". http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_news/story/375900.html. 

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Old Folks at Home — chantée par les Christy s Minstrels en 1851. La Old Folks at Home, aussi connue sous la dénomination (Way Down Upon the) Swanee River, est une chanson écrite en 1851 par le compositeur américain Stephen Foster. La chanson, qui a la base a été… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Old Folks at Home — Werbeplakat für die Christy s Minstrels aus dem Jahre 1851. Old Folks at Home, gesungen von Ernestine Schumann Heink (Aufnahme: 1918) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Old Folks at Home — [Old Folks at Home] a popular US song written in 1851 by Stephen Foster. It is now the official state song of Florida, and it begins:. Way down upon the Swanee River, Far, far away, There’s where my heart is turning ever, There’s where the old… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Old Folks at Home — a popular US song written in 1851 by Stephen Foster. It is now the official state song of Florida, and it begins:. Way down upon the Swanee River, Far, far away, There’s where my heart is turning ever, There’s where the old folks stay. * * * …   Universalium

  • old folks' home — old folks .home n informal a place where old people live and are looked after when they are unable to look after themselves = ↑old people s home, nursing home ↑nursing home …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • old folks — old folk UK / US or old folks UK / US noun [plural] showing approval old people Everyone had a great time – children, parents, and old folks. an old folks home …   English dictionary

  • Old Folks — For the song by A, see A vs. Monkey Kong. Old Folks Single by Ronnie Milsap with Mike Reid from the album Heart Soul Released 1988 Genre …   Wikipedia

  • old folks' home — noun (C) informal an old people s home …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • Old Black Joe — Original sheet music cover Music by Stephen Foster Lyrics by Stephen Foster Published New York: Firth, Pond Co. (1853) Language English …   Wikipedia

  • old folk — old ,folk or old ,folks noun plural old people. This word usually shows that you like old people: Everyone had a great time, children, parents, and old folks. an old folks home …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English


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