Andy Razaf

Andy Razaf
Andy Razaf.png
Background information
Birth nameAndriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo
Born(1895-12-16)December 16, 1895
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedFebruary 3, 1973(1973-02-03) (aged 77)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Poet, composer, and lyricist

Andy Razaf (born Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo; December 16, 1895 – February 3, 1973)[1] 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., United States.[1] His birth name was Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo. He was the son of Henri Razafinkarefo, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III of Imerina kingdom in Madagascar, and Jennie Razafinkarefo (née Waller), the daughter of John L. Waller, the first African American consul to Imerina.[2] 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.[3]

He was raised in Harlem, Manhattan, 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 Lines 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.[4]

Some of Razaf's early poems were published in 1917–18 in the Hubert Harrison-ed 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.[1] 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".[1] 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 or of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League's Negro World newspaper.[2]

He also wrote quite a number of raunchy 'character' blues-type songs for many of the women blues singers of the 1920s. He also made a number of records as vocalist (both as solo and as vocalist for jazz groups, including a handful by James P. Johnson and Fletcher Henderson).

He was married to Jean Blackwell Hutson from 1939 to 1947.[5]

In 1972, Razaf was recognized by his Tin Pan Alley peers in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[6]


Razaf died in North Hollywood, California from renal failure, aged 77.[2]


The Songwriters Hall of Fame entry on Andy Razaf lists 215 compositions, giving co-writers and publishers.[6] He had many unpublished songs; Singer's biography lists more than 800, published and unpublished (but without giving lyrics). Some notable lyrics include:


Although Razaf's songs are found on hundreds of recordings, there are only two albums devoted exclusively to his compositions:



  1. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 2050/1. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b c d Bourlin, Olga (November 29, 2015). "Andy Razaf (1895-1973)". Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Zinsser, William (October 6, 2006). Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs. David R. Godine Publisher. p. 71/2. Retrieved October 6, 2021 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Ken Bloom (November 11, 2003). Broadway: An Encyclopedia (Second ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93704-3.
  5. ^ Smith, Dinitia (February 7, 1998). "Jean Hutson, Schomburg Chief, Dies at 83 (Published 1998)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Songwriters Hall of Fame website". Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Maxine Sullivan : Mound Bayou". YouTube. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  8. ^ "A Tribute to Andy Razaf - Maxine Sullivan & Her All-Stars | Songs, Reviews, Crs". AllMusic. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  9. ^ "Guess Who's in Town: Bobby Short Performs the Songs of Andy Razaf - Bobby Short | Songs, Reviews, Crs". AllMusic. Retrieved October 6, 2021.


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