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Vintage sheet music for
"I'll Remember April"
words and music by Gene De Paul,
Don Raye and Pat Johnston
(Ann Miller, who sang the song in the 1945 movie Eve Knew Her Apples, on Cover)
Born: Donald Macrae Wilhoite Jr., March 16, 1909, Washington, DC (US)
Died: January, 29 1985 (age 75), Encino, California (US)
Primary songwriting roles: composer and lyricist; also a singer and vaudeville performer/dancer
Reprinted and adapted from
(website no longer available)
Raye's father was the composer of at least one sentimental song, "Mother." However, as a child, Raye's talent was as an accomplished dancer, even winning the 'Virginia State Dancing Championship. After graduating from New York University, he began working in Vaudeville as a "song and dance man," using the name Don Raye, and began to write some songs just for his own act. Later, he toured theatres and nightclubs in France and England, and also began offering his songs to other performers.
In 1935, at age 26, he began to work full time as a composer and started to collaborate with other composers such as Sammy Cahn, and Saul Chaplin, who, like Raye, collaborated with the alto saxophonist Jimmie Lunceford leader of one of the Swing era's best 'hot' orchestras. One of his songs, "Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes," became a hit for Lunceford's band. (Side note: It was Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin who brought great fame to the Andrew Sisters with their English language version of the Yiddish song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Means That You're Grand)", originally composed by Sholem Secunda and Jacob Jacobs for the 1933 Yiddish show "I Would If I Could". ) In 1936 "Swing Me A Lullaby" (w and m. Don Raye, Hughie Prince & Tom Waring) was a hit for Connie Boswell, with Bob Crosby's band. In the late '30s, Raye worked for a New York City music publishing house. In early 1939, the 'Andrews Sisters' recorded his "Well All Right! (Tonight's the Night), which was a hit for the girls. Then in 1940, Raye relocated to Hollywood, where he and fellow composer Hughie Prince were commissioned to write the songs for Argentine Nights, a film in which the 'Andrews Sisters' made their screen debut.
The team of Vic Schoen (the 'Andrew Sisters' arranger), Hughie Prince, and Raye wrote "Hit The Road" and "Oh! How He Loves Me", while Raye and Prince, composed "Rhumboogie", the first of a series of 'boogie woogie' numbers destined for great popular success. (Other 'boogie' tunes included "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," and "Down the Road a Piece." Some were hit releases for the Andrews Sisters, and some for pianist Freddie Slack's Orchestra, and for Will Bradley And His Orchestra. But boogie woogie wasn't his only forte. One of Raye's biggest hits was the beautiful ballad "I'll Remember April" (co-written with Gene de Paul). Raye composed the tune after meeting and falling in love with a lady named Pat Johnston.
In 1941, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served during World War II. After the War, Raye returned to Hollywood, to Universal Studios, and to songwriting. "Argentine Nights" was the first of some 47 films that Raye would work on for the Hollywood studios, during which time Raye made only one acting appearance on screen.
Starting in late 1941, Raye and composer Gene de Paul began working with each other at Universal. (In his book Hollywood Rhapsody, Gary Marmorstein describes Raye and De Paul as "the always underrated team.") They also wrote original numbers for such movies as Samuel Goldwyn's production of A Song Is Born, and Walt Disney's So Dear to My Heart, and Ichabod and Mr. Toad. In 1949, Raye retired from full-time movie work and did only some occasional songwriting, though his songs did continue to be used in movies well into the 1960s. His "Well, All Right," written in 1959 with Frances Faye and Dan Howell, was a hit for the Andrew Sisters, and was later interpolated into the 1978 biopic, The Buddy Holly Story.
(The full article was originally found at SaveTheMusic.com. which includes material about Raye's connections to Yiddish songs and Yiddish theater. SavetheMusic.com is no longer available.)
Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000.
Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball write of Don Raye as an "unfairly forgotten figure [who] helped America make a joyous music during an unjoyous time" (p. 427). They are referring to songs of his like "Cow, Cow Boogie," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," all up-tempo World War II era songs that revealed the need for escape into crazy fun as opposed to the songs of the time that evoked the painful feelings of separated lovers.
"This Is My Country"
Don Raye and Al Jacobs
(words and music)
1940 (commentary adapted from Wikipedia.)
The 1940 Rae / Jacobs song "This Is My Country," resonates today, 2013, evoking a patriotic response not only because of its incorporation of a march tempo to appeal to elements of traditional American pride, but from its placement of immigrant Americans on an equal footing with those who are Americans because they were born here. Both can say America is my country. This would have had special significance at a time (1940) when both kinds of Americans would very soon have to fight and die for their country. The underlying theme of the entire lyric is the bridging of divides.
What difference if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?
My heart is filled with love
For all of these.
I only know I swell with pride
And deep within my breast
I thrill to see Old Glory
Paint the breeze.
Don Rayeresearch resources in print (listed chronologically):
ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, New York: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Cattell/Bowker, Fourth edition, 1980 (dates, collaborators, shows/movies, songs, etc., entry p. 544, under Donald Wilhoite)
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