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James Kennedy

(1902—1984) popular songwriter


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b. 20 July 1902, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, d. 6 April 1984, Cheltenham, England. One of Britain’s leading songwriters from the mid-30s through to the 50s, Kennedy’s collaboration with Michael Carr, in particular, produced some of the most popular songs of the day. After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, Kennedy spent brief periods as a teacher and a civil servant before deciding to concentrate on songwriting. His first big break came when he signed a contract with music publisher Bert Feldman, which led to him writing lyrics for songs such as ‘Oh, Donna Clara’ (music by J. Petersburski, 1930), ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ (a new lyric to John W. Bratton’s 1907 melody), ‘My Song Goes Round The World’ (Hans May, Ernst Neubach), ‘Beside My Caravan’ (Karel Vacek), ‘Café In Vienna’ (Vacek), ‘Little Valley In The Mountains’ (J. Dvoracek, K. Zeleny), ‘Play To Me, Gypsy’ (Vacek) and ‘Isle Of Capri’ (Will Grosz). The latter number has proved to be an enduring all-time standard: Gracie Fields ’ version, in particular, is fondly remembered. In 1934 Kennedy began his five-year association with Michael Carr, which resulted in several mostly memorable compositions, including ‘Ole Faithful’, ‘Misty Islands Of The Highlands’, ‘The General’s Fast Asleep’, ‘Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?’, ‘The Sunset Trail’, ‘Why Did She Fall For The Leader Of The Band?’, ‘Waltz Of The Gypsies’, ‘Cinderella, Stay In My Arms’, ‘A Handsome Territorial’, ‘Two Bouquets’, and probably their best-known song, ‘South Of The Border’.

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From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Music.


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