A melodic genius with tender, sympathetic lyrics and infectious rhythm, Stephen Foster is often credited as "America's First Composer" and widely regarded as one of the first who made professional songwriting profitable. Fosters' songs were the first genuinely American in theme, characterizing love of home, American temperament, river life and work, politics, battlefields, slavery and plantation life.

A self-taught musician, his poems and melodies were written in a simple manner with little musical embellishment or complexity. His work mirrored a kind, modest and sympathetic personality. In a sentimental style inspired by the simplicity of southern plantation music, Foster wrote such songs as "Old Folks At Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Oh! Susana" and "Old Black Joe". These songs, and many others from the Foster catalog, brought recognition and validity to Negro songs.

Stephen Collins Foster was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1826, to a politically and socially prominent Pittsburgh family. His father, William Barclay Foster, was a member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature and the mayor of Allegheny City (a Pittsburgh suburb). Stephen Foster was the youngest of eleven children from William and his wife, Eliza Clayland Tomlinson Foster.

In 1840, Foster attended Allegheny Academy, the first of three failed scholarly attempts, followed by Athens Academy and Towanda Academy. At Athens, the fourteen-year old Foster wrote his first song "The Tioga Waltz" (not published until after his death). In July 1841, Foster enrolled in Jefferson College at Canonsburg, PA, however struck with desperate homesickness, his attendance lasted 1 week and from 1841 to 1846, he lived with his family in Pittsburgh doing private study. It was during…

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"SWANEE RIVER"

Discography Highlights

OH! SUSANNA Stephen C. Foster
C. Holt, Jr. 1848

CAMPTOWN RACES Stephen C. Foster
F.D. Benteen 1850

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