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Stephen Foster Memorial Day

Stephen Foster Memorial Day is celebrated on January 13 of each year by people who know and appreciate his legacy in the music industry.

Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1826, Stephen Foster is called the "father of American music." During his lifetime, he was best known as a prolific instrumentalist, songwriter and arranger, but not as a singer or performer.

Although Foster never lived in the southern United States, many of his songs were based on black faced minstrel shows about African Americans and slavery and because of the use of offensive wording, some of his songs have been modified using more acceptable lyrics.

Some of Foster's compositions have become official state songs such as "My Old Kentucky Home" for the state of Kentucky and "Old Folks at Home," the official state song of Florida. "Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" is Florida's state anthem.

In 1860, Foster moved to New York City taking his wife and daughter with him. Since his songs never generated a lot of money and he struggled to make a living with his music, he and his family lived in virtual poverty. His wife left him the next year and moved back to Pennsylvania with their daughter.

Some of Fosters most memorable compositions are:

1. Oh! Susannah
2. Beautiful Dreamer
3. Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
4. Camptown Races
5. My Old Kentucky Home
6. Old Black Joe
7. Nelly Bly
8. Nelly Was a Lady
9. Give Us This Day
10. Laura Lee

Although the lyrics to many of his songs were gaining popularity around the country while he lived, it wasn't until after his untimely death at age 37 did his songs begin to gain true popularity. On January 13, 1864, Stephen Foster, died in New York City. At the time of his death, Foster, had written over 200 musical compositions.

Many of Fosters' songs are still recorded and performed by singers and musicians in all genres of music. His songs can still be heard on the radio, in movies, plays, at sporting events, and other venues.

Foster was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. Throughout the country, parks, public buildings, statues, and other shrines are dedicated to the memory of Stephen Foster.

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