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IU celebrates birthday of jazz musician Hoagy Carmichael



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IU honored Hoagy Carmichael's birthday with a concert at noon Nov. 21 in Morrison Hall. IDS file photo Buy Photos

On Nov. 22 in 1899, beloved Hoosier and a prominent songwriter Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael was born. IU honored his birthday with a concert at noon Nov. 21 in Morrison Hall.

“If you have heard ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ you heard a Hoagy tune,” said Allison McClanahan, the librarian at the Archives of Traditional Music. 

One of his famous songs, “Stardust,”  was written here at IU. Carmichael, who died in 1981, was walking on campus when he had a moment of inspiration, McClanahan said. 

“He ran to the Book Nook across the street where BuffaLouie's is right now and got on the piano and played it,” McClanahan said.

Ensembles from the Jacobs School of Music and the folklore and ethnomusicology department gathered in the Hoagy Carmichael Room, located in Morrison Hall, to perform some of Carmichael’s classic songs, such as “Stardust,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “Buttermilk Sky.” 

Rachel Caswell, 46, performed “Skylark” at the concert. She said Carmichael created interesting forms and catchy hooks, and he knew how to form harmonious tones. Caswell said “Skylark” had interesting turns and could sound out of place if missed.

“The same things that make the song beautiful is the same thing that makes the song difficult,” Caswell said.

Thomas Hustad, 74, is a retired business professor who taught product development. He said two factors — economic sustainability and artistic integrity — are important for jazz musicians trying to create music people are interested in.

“The ultimate beauty of a composer is to create a foundation for future artists, so that the music is repurposed, personalized and never dies,” Hustad said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the name of the library. It is the Archives of Traditional Music. The IDS regrets this error.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the legal name of Hoagy Carmichael. It is Hoagland Howard "Hoagy" Carmichael. The IDS regrets this error.

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