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Hello! Ma Baby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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 after Edison's utterance[3]—by 1889, "Hello Girl" was slang for a telephone operator[4][5]—though it later became a general greeting for all situations.

The song was first recorded by Arthur Collins on an Edison 5470 phonograph cylinder.[6]

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).[7]


  1. ^ AllMusic.com. "Joseph E. Howard". AllMusic.com. AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-02-17. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  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. ^ Allen Koenigsberg. "The First "Hello!": Thomas Edison, the Phonograph and the Telephone – Part 2". Antique Phonograph Magazine. Vol. VIII, no. 6. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  5. ^ Grimes, William (5 March 1992). "Great 'Hello' Mystery Is Solved". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  6. ^ "Recording 'Hello, Ma Baby' by Arthur Francis Collins". Musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  7. ^ 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]