The state of Georgia, USA has been on the minds of Americans and the world for almost a century, thanks to the genius of Hoagland Carmichael.
Hoagy Carmichael entered a studio in New York City on September 15, 1930 to record “Georgia On My Mind” with a jazz band led by Frankie Trumbauer, one of the most popular music artists of the era. Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke, who was already a jazz legend, provided lead support on cornet. By the end of September the song’s 45rpm copies were selling briskly around the country.
Carmichael co-composed the song with his Indiana University schoolmate, Stuart Gorell. Some legends claim that Gorrell’s lyrics were inspired by Carmichael’s sister, Georgia. Since 1930 dozens of other artists have recorded vocal or instrumental cover versions. Not surprisingly, the song also served as the theme for the television show Designing Women, which was set in Atlanta, Georgia.
In September 1960 another genius released what would become the song’s signature version. “Georgia On My Mind” was a track on The Genius Hits the Road, a legendary album by Ray Charles. In 1979, after Charles performed the song at the State Capitol, the Georgia General Assembly designated it the official state song.
There are lots of fascinating facts behind every story in history; here are a few about this one. “Georgia On My Mind” was not the only song considered by the General Assembly. “Moon River,” which was co-composed by Savannah native Johnny Mercer, was a very close second.