Andy Razaf


Biography of Andy Razaf

Andy Razaf (December 16, 1895 – February 3, 1973) was an American poet, composer and lyricist of such well-known songs as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose".

Razaf was born in Washington, D.C. His birth name was Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo. He was the son of Henri Razafinkarefo, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III of Imerina, and Jennie (Waller) Razafinkarefo, the daughter of John L. Waller, the first African American consul to Imerina. The French invasion of Madagascar left his father dead, and forced his pregnant 15-year-old mother to escape to the United States, where he was born in 1895.

He was raised in Harlem, and at the age of 16 he quit school and took a job as an elevator operator at a Tin Pan Alley office building. A year later he penned his first song text, embarking on his career as a lyricist. During this time he would spend many nights in the Greyhound bus station in Times Square and would pick up his mail at the Gaiety Theatre office building which was considered the black Tin Pan Alley.

Some of Razaf's early poems were published in 1917-18 in the Hubert Harrison-edited Voice, the first newspaper of the "New Negro Movement". Razaf collaborated with composers Eubie Blake, Don Redman, James P. Johnson, Harry Brooks, and Fats Waller. Among the best-known Razaf-Waller collaborations are Ain't Misbehavin', Honeysuckle Rose, The Joint Is Jumpin', Willow Tree, Keepin' Out of Mischief Now and (What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue. His music was played by other Tin Pan Alley musicians, as well as Benny Goodman, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway and many others. He was a contributor and editor of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League's Negro World newspaper.

In 1972, Razaf was recognized by his Tin Pan Alley peers in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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