Stephen C. Foster, “America’s Troubadour,” was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1826. He died on January 13, 1864.
Stephen C. Foster, 1859
President Harry S. Truman established Stephen Foster Memorial Day by proclamation in October, 1951. The first official observance of the day occurred on January 13, 1952. Today, 150 years after his death, we continue to recognize the life and works of “America’s Troubadour.”
Foster is remembered for composing songs that captured the spirit of the United States in the 19th century. He wrote over 200 songs in his career. Some of his most popular include: “Oh! Susanna,” “Laura Lee,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Folks at Home (aka “Swanee River”),” “Camptown Races,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Old Black Joe.”
Carillon tower at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, 1957
White Springs, Florida, is home to the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. The park, on the banks of the Suwanee River, opened in 1950 to honor Foster and his song, “Old Folks at Home.” Every year since 1954 the park has hosted the annual Florida Folk Festival.
Tenor James Melvin performing during the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day, White Springs, 1952
Florida Governor Fuller Warren hosted the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Singer James Melvin performed songs from the Foster catalog, accompanied by Frank Black on the piano.
Listen to recordings from the 1952 event. Enjoy!
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/sfostermemorialday.mp3|titles= Performances from the inaugural Stephen Foster Memorial Day (1952) |artists=State Archives of Florida] Download: MP3
More Information: Catalog Record