Andy Razaf

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Andy Razaf
Razaf in 1954
Razaf in 1954
Background information
Birth nameAndriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo
Born(1895-12-16)December 16, 1895
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedFebruary 3, 1973(1973-02-03) (aged 77)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Poet, composer, and lyricist

Andy Razaf (born Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo; December 16, 1895 – February 3, 1973)[1] was an American poet, composer, and lyricist of such well-known songs as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose".


Razaf was born in Washington, D.C., United States.[1] His birth name was Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo. He was the son of Henri Razafinkarefo, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III of the Imerina kingdom in Madagascar, and Jennie Razafinkarefo (née Waller), the daughter of John L. Waller, the first African American consul to Imerina.[2] The French invasion of Madagascar (1894-95) left his father dead, and forced his pregnant 15-year-old mother to escape to the United States, where he was born in 1895.[3]

He was raised in Harlem, Manhattan, and at the age of 16 he quit school and took a job as an elevator operator at a Tin Pan Alley office building. A year later he penned his first song text, embarking on his career as a lyricist. During this time he spent many nights in the Greyhound Lines bus station in Times Square, and picked up his mail at the Gaiety Theatre office building, which was considered the black Tin Pan Alley.[4]

Some of Razaf's early poems were published in 1917–18 in the Hubert Harrison-edited Voice, the first newspaper of the "New Negro Movement". Razaf collaborated with composers Eubie Blake, Don Redman, James P. Johnson, Harry Brooks, and Fats Waller.[1] Among the best-known Razaf-Waller collaborations are "Ain't Misbehavin'", "Honeysuckle Rose", "The Joint Is Jumpin'", "Willow Tree", "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now" and "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue".[1] His music was played by other Tin Pan Alley musicians, as well as Benny Goodman, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway and many others. He was a contributor and editor of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League's Negro World newspaper.[2]

He also wrote quite a number of raunchy 'character' blues-type songs for many of the female blues singers of the 1920s. He also made a number of records as vocalist (both as solo and as vocalist for jazz groups, including a handful by James P. Johnson and Fletcher Henderson).

He was married to Jean Blackwell Hutson from 1939 to 1947.[5]

In 1972, Razaf was recognized by his Tin Pan Alley peers when he was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[6]


Razaf died in North Hollywood, California in February 1973 from renal failure, aged 77.[2]


The Songwriters Hall of Fame entry for Andy Razaf lists 215 compositions, giving co-writers and publishers.[6] He had many unpublished songs; Singer's biography lists more than 800, published and unpublished (but without giving lyrics). Some notable lyrics include:


Although Razaf's songs are found on hundreds of recordings, there are only two albums devoted exclusively to his compositions:

  • Maxine Sullivan, A Tribute to Andy Razaf, 1956, produced by Leonard Feather,[8] re-issued in 2006 as My Memories of You with two additional non-Razaf tracks.
  • Bobby Short, Guess Who's in Town: Bobby Short Performs the Songs of Andy Razaf, 1987,[2][9] re-released in 2001 in tandem with Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter.


  • Wired, Hired, Fired, an expression of grief and sorrow that color bars one fitted to position (that is, one otherwise qualified for, or well suited to the job, is barred on the basis of race).
  • Jack Johnson, touching on defeat with honor.


  1. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 2050/1. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Bourlin, Olga (November 29, 2015). "Andy Razaf (1895-1973)". Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Zinsser, William (October 6, 2006). Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs. David R. Godine Publisher. p. 71/2. ISBN 9781567923254. Retrieved October 6, 2021 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Ken Bloom (November 11, 2003). Broadway: An Encyclopedia (Second ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93704-3.
  5. ^ Smith, Dinitia (February 7, 1998). "Jean Hutson, Schomburg Chief, Dies at 83 (Published 1998)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Songwriters Hall of Fame website". Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Maxine Sullivan : Mound Bayou". YouTube. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  8. ^ "A Tribute to Andy Razaf - Maxine Sullivan & Her All-Stars | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  9. ^ "Guess Who's in Town: Bobby Short Performs the Songs of Andy Razaf - Bobby Short | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 6, 2021.


  • Black and Blue: The Life and Lyrics of Andy Razaf by Barry Singer, Foreword by Bobby Short, ISBN 0-02-872395-3
  • Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs'; by William Zinsser, David R. Godine Publisher, 2006, ISBN 1-56792-325-9
  • The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists by Philip Furia, ISBN 0-19-507473-4
  • Who's Who of the Colored Race, Memento Edition Half-Century Anniversary of Negro Freedom in U.S., reprinted by Gale Research Company, Book Tower Detroit, 1976.

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