Stephen Foster: Lou’sianna Belle
Lou’sianna Belle quickly became a top hit at touring minstrel shows. This type of 19th-century entertainment featured impersonations of the Negro by white performers in song, dance and speech. Mel Watkins, critic, author and former editor of the NY Times Sunday Book Review, writes “minstrel shows presented the black character as being stupid, as being comical, as being basically a frivolous character. And society itself embraced it. They loved it. This was what people had thought about blacks all along, and it reaffirmed what mainstream America had been thinking all along.”
Stephen Foster: Oh Susanna
Stephen Foster: My Old Kentucky Home
Foster’s refinement of lyrics and musical style aside, he was nevertheless influenced by financial necessity and the political events of the day. In 1856, Stephen Foster became the musical director of the Buchanan Glee Club. He helped Democrat James Buchanan win the presidential election by writing The White House Chair. When Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, the American Civil War officially got underway and Foster composed a number of songs rousing Union sentiment.
Stephen Foster: That’s what’s the matter
Please join us next time when we take a look at Foster’s composition for the Parlor, the Music Hall and Sunday school.