If Cole Porter and George Gershwin penned the soundtrack of the city, then Hoagy Carmichael was the voice of America's heartland. His best-known songs are now American standards: Stardust, Georgia on My Mind, Heart and Soul.... Carmichael's career lasted four decades, and he penned hundreds of songs.
Born Hoagland Howard Carmichael in Bloomington, Indiana, he grew up in very modest circumstances. His mother played piano for dances at local fraternity parties and at silent movies. Hoagy would tag along. Like a sponge, he absorbed music from his mother, from the visiting circuses, and from the black families and churches in his neighborhood. Ragtime was in the air, and his mother mastered the “Maple Leaf Rag” and other popular tunes of the day.