My Old Kentucky Home
|"My Old Kentucky Home"|
Sheet music, 10th edition, 1892(?)
|Music by||Stephen Foster|
|Lyrics by||Stephen Foster|
|Published||New York: Firth, Pond & Co. (January 1853)|
|Form||Strophic with chorus|
|Original artist||Christy's Minstrels|
"My Old Kentucky Home" is a minstrel song by Stephen Foster (1826-1864), probably composed in 1852. It was published as "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night" in January 1853 by Firth, Pond, & Co. of New York. The song was introduced by Christy's Minstrels the same year.
Foster allegedly composed the song after visiting a relative's home at Bardstown, Kentucky called Federal Hill, but scholars have discounted the allegation. Richard Jackson believes Foster took inspiration from Harriett Beecher Stowe's 1851 bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin, and hoped to exploit its popularity. In Foster's sketchbook, the song was titled "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night" and each verse ended with the line "Den poor Uncle Tom, good night." Jackson describes the song as "one of [Foster's] most appealing nostalgia pieces". Abolitionist Frederick Douglass thought the song stimulated "the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish."
The song described originally an everyday scene on a slave plantation and was a beloved song in minstrel shows.
"My Old Kentucky Home" became the official state song of Kentucky on March 19, 1928 by an act of the Kentucky legislature. In 1986, Japanese students visiting the Kentucky General Assembly sang the song as a gesture of respect, but Carl Hines, the only black member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, was quoted as saying that the lyrics "convey connotations of racial discrimination that are not acceptable". Within days, Hines was sponsoring a bill to revise the lyrics, and, with the passage of House Resolution 159, the word "darkies" was changed to "people".
Foster's composition is the official song of the Kentucky Derby. As early as 1930, it was played to accompany the Post Parade; the University of Louisville Marching Band has played the song for all but a few years since 1936. In 1982, Churchill Downs honored Foster by establishing the Stephen Foster Handicap. The University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Murray State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University bands play the song at their schools' football and basketball games, and the song has been heard in many films including The Little Colonel; Gone With the Wind; The Story of Seabiscuit; The Human Comedy; and the Bugs Bunny cartoon Southern Fried Rabbit.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
It was also the namesake of a Mighty Mouse cartoon.
- Richard Jackson (1974). Stephen Foster song book: original sheet music of 40 songs. Courier Dover Press. p. 177.
- "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!". 2008. Retrieved September 2011.
- William Emmett Studwell (1997). The Americana song reader. Psychology Press. p. 110.
- PressRoom (2001-04-09). "American Experience on KET profiles "My Old Kentucky Home" author, Stephen Foster". KET. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
- "Negro Life at the South". New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- "The Kentucky State Song: Adoption of State Song". Retrieved September 2011.
- "My Old Kentucky Home: Official Song of the Kentucky Derby". Retrieved September 2011.
- "My Old Kentucky Home". University Place Patch. May 2011. Retrieved September 2011.
Further reading 
- Clark, Thomas D. (January 1936). "The Slavery Background of Foster's My Old Kentucky Home". Filson Club Historical Quarterly 10 (1). Retrieved 2011-11-29.