Hello! Ma Baby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Original sheet-music cover from 1899

"Hello! Ma Baby" is a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1899 by the songwriting team of Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson, known as "Howard and Emerson".[1] Its subject is a man who has a girlfriend he knows only through the telephone. At the time, telephones were relatively novel, present in fewer than 10% of U.S. households, and this was the first well-known song to refer to the device.[2] Additionally, the word "Hello" itself was primarily associated with telephone use—"Hello Girl" was slang for a telephone operator even through the First World War—though it later became a general greeting for all situations.

The song was first recorded by Arthur Collins on an Edison 5470 phonograph cylinder.[3]

It was originally a "coon song", with African-American caricatures on the sheet music and "coon" references in the lyrics.[4]

The song may be best known today as the introductory song in the famous Warner Bros. cartoon One Froggy Evening (1955), sung by the character later dubbed Michigan J. Frog and high-stepping in the style of a cakewalk.


In Charles Ives's 1906 composition Central Park in the Dark, it is quoted frequently.

The short piano piece The Little Nigar (Le petit nègre) by Claude Debussy from 1909 features a melody very similar to "Hello! Ma Baby", and may have been inspired by the song.

Sheet music and the Warner Bros. acquisition of the song[edit]

The sheet music was published by T. B. Harms & Co., which was acquired by Warner Bros. before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 (during the advent of the "Talkies" era of cinema).[5]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ AllMusic.com. "Joseph E. Howard". AllMusic.com. AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  2. ^ Fuld, James J. (1985). The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk (3rd ed.). New York: Dover Publications. p. 272. ISBN 0-486-24857-7. OCLC 11289867.
  3. ^ "Recording 'Hello, Ma Baby' by Arthur Francis Collins". Musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  4. ^ "Hello, Ma Baby by Arthur Collins (Single; Edison; 5470): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  5. ^ Spring, Katherine (2013). Saying It With Songs: Popular Music and the Coming of Sound to Hollywood Cinema. Oxford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-19-984221-6.

External links[edit]