The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, Bo Bice, Iron & Wine, Kristin Chenoweth, Dave Brubeck, Jewel, Roy Orbison, Vince Guaraldi, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, The Chieftains, Brett Dennen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Liberace, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Hee Haw’s Grandpa Jones.
What do these award-winning artists have in common? They’ve all covered songs written by the most famous songwriter of the ’50s & ’60s.
The 1850s and ’60s.
When people think about the music of Stephen Foster, people have a preconceived notion that it’s outdated, old-fashioned, and boring. But if all of the above artists recorded his music, it obviously holds up more than 150 years later. It’s pretty impressive; can you imagine the recording artists of the year 2165 covering the songbook of Iggy Azalea?
Back to the year 2015, the place to be is Bardstown, Kentucky, where you can take part in events and attractions that pay homage to America’s first great songwriter. At My Old Kentucky Home State Park, tour beautifully restored Federal Hill, the mansion that inspired Stephen Foster to write Kentucky’s state song. In addition to the home, you’ll find tennis courts, a golf course, and a campground.
Autumn is the perfect time to visit the state park. The landscape is covered in a canopy of orange, red, and gold. Additionally, you could also visit in late November and you’ll get to experience Federal Hill as it was many Christmases ago. Wreaths hang on every window, the staircase is draped in garlands of pine and cedar, and every room is filled with the warm glow of candlelight.
As a side note, be sure to mark your calendar for a return visit next summer for the nation’s longest-running outdoor musical, “The Stephen Foster Story.”
Additionally, if you’re interested in hearing exactly how relevant Mr. Foster still is, check out these links to modern versions of his most famous songs.
“Beautiful Dreamer” by The Beatles
“Hard Times Come Again No More” by Iron & Wine
“Oh Susanna” by Jewel
“Camptown Races” by Dave Brubeck
“Slumber My Darling” by Alison Krauss
“My Old Kentucky Home” by Johnny Cash (chorus only)