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".



Andy Razaf, born Andriamanantena Paul Razafinkarefo in Washington, D.C., was the son of Henri Razafinkarefo, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar, and Jennie (Waller) Razafinkarefo, the daughter of John L. Waller, the first African American consul to Madagascar.

The French invasion of Madagascar left his father dead, and forced his 15-year-old mother to escape with the boy back to the United States.[1]

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 [2]

Many of Razaf's lyrics provide an African-American perspective on America. Through their sharp observation of social and racial issues, Razaf's lyrics give an inside look at life in New York City in the first half of the 20th century.

He was also a poet. 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. He also added lyrics to instrumental hits such as Stompin' at the Savoy, Christopher Columbus, and In the Mood. Among the best-known Razaf-Waller collaborations are The Joint Is Jumpin', Ain't Misbehavin', Honeysuckle Rose, 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.

In 1972 at seventy-six years of age, Andy Razaf, the most prolific black lyricist of twentieth century popular music, was finally recognized by his Tin Pan Alley peers in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[3] He died in North Hollywood, California from cancer, aged 77 on February 3, 1973.


The Songwriters Hall of Fame entry on Andy Razaf lists 215 compositions, giving co-writers and publishers [1]. He also had many unpublished songs; Singer's biography lists more than 800, published and unpublished (but without giving lyrics). Some notable lyrics include:

"Baltimo"', composed at the age of 17, was sung by members of The Passing Show of 1913 at Winter Garden, New York. "Ain't Misbehavin'" "Black and Blue" "Garvey! Hats Off to Garvey" "Honeysuckle Rose" "In the Mood" "The Joint Is Jumpin"' "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now" "Louisiana" "Stompin' at the Savoy" "That's what I like about the South" "U.N.I.A."

Moon Mullican's "It must be love" used a verse from Razaf's "That's what I like about the South", a song which Mullican also recorded.

Artists who recorded Razaf's songs include:

Charlie Parker
Glenn Miller
Moon Mullican
Fats Waller


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

Maxine Sullivan, A Tribute to Andy Razaf, 1956, produced by Leonard Feather, re-issued in 2006 as My Memories of You with two additional non-Razaf tracks. Bobby Short, Guess Who's in Town, 1987, re-released in 2001 in tandem with Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter


Wired, Hired, Fired, an expression of grief and sorrow that color bars one fitted to position. Jack Johnson, touching on defeat with honor.


1. ^ Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs, William Zinsser (2006), p. 71-2 2. ^Broadway: An Encyclopedia by Ken Bloom. Routledge; 2 edition (November 11, 2003); ISBN 0-415-93704-3 3. ^ Songwriters Hall of Fame website


  • Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs'; by William Zinsser, David R. Godine Publisher, 2006, ISBN 1567923259
  • The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists by Philip Furia, ISBN 0-19-507473-4
  • Who's Who of the Colored Race, Memento Edition Half-Century Anniversary of Negro Freedom in U.S., reprinted by Gale Research Company, Book Tower Detroit, 1976.

External LinksEdit

Andy Razaf at at Find-A-Grave

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