(born July 4, 1826, Lawrenceville, Pa., U.S.—died Jan. 13, 1864, New York, N.Y.) U.S. songwriter. He began writing songs as a child, influenced in part by black church services he attended with the family’s servant and by songs sung by black labourers. In 1842 he published “Open Thy Lattice, Love,” and in 1848 he sold “Oh! Susanna” for $100; it quickly became an international hit. He later entered into a contract with the publisher Firth, Pond & Co. He was commissioned to write songs for Edwin P. Christy’s minstrel show; his “Old Folks at Home” became one of the most popular songs of the century. In 1857, drinking heavily and in financial difficulties, he sold all rights to his future songs to his publishers for about $1,900. In 1860 he moved to New York; he died penniless at age 37, leaving about 200 songs, including “Camptown Races,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” and he is universally regarded as the greatest American songwriter of the 19th century.
Birth Place: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Death Place: New York City, New York, United States
Name: Foster, Stephen or Stephen Foster
Activity: American composer
Keywords: Foster, Stephen, musical composition, Pennsylvania, ballad, American, Stephen Foster, popular music, music, minstrel show, New York City, Lawrenceville, New York
The Fosters were of Ulster stock, the composer’s great-grandfather having emigrated from Co. Derry to Pennsylvania in 1728. The family moved to...
1826-64 US songwriter. Influenced by the Negro spiritual, his popular songs include "Camptown Races" (1850), "My Old Kentucky Home" (1853), and...