Stephen Foster

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KarenZ
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Stephen Foster

Postby KarenZ » Mon Jul 03, 2006 10:22 pm

Hi folks,

Did you know that Stephen Foster was a Pittsburgher who was born on July 4, 1826? On the day Foster was born in 1826, as our nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence, two presidents - John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (the second and third presidents respectively) died.

I must admit that when I was in grade school I really disliked having to sing the songs of both Stephen Foster and Woody Guthrie. I think I can even say that I hated "camptown races" and "this land is your land". I've come to appreciate them both in my adulthood.

Stephen Foster is the only person to compose two official state songs: "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" (1853) and Florida's state song "Old Folks at Home" (1851) which is better known as "Swanee River". Not too shabby.

The Stephen Foster Memorial sits in the heart of the University of Pittsburgh campus in the shadow of Pitt's landmark Cathedral of Learning.

Despite composing the most popular songs of his time, Foster died at the age of 37 with 38 cents in his pocket and a scrap of paper on which he had scribbled "dear friends and gentle hearts." He is buried in Pittsburgh's Allegheny Cemetary.

Last year, Foster's work was honored with a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster. The recording features artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma and Allison Krauss to Mavis Staples and Roger McGuinn. It wasn't until I heard Raul Malo's rendition of the title track that I really came to appreciate Foster's work. Hearing other artists perform Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie did the trick too. ;)

KarenZ
"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see." -- Ann Patchett in Bel Canto.

Nance

Postby Nance » Tue Jul 04, 2006 1:38 am

Hi Karen,

Thanks for all of the enlightening details..."This Land..." is now an absolute favorite, and a daily "America" song in my classroom. While unfortunate that so many artists have gone unrecognized during their lifetime, at least someone has opened our eyes...and thankfully, there are artists that are still around to feel the appreciation and identification of the masses :D

Nancy


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