Stephen Foster was the first great American songwriter. His songs have become a part of the fabric of American culture, and a handful are among the most famous songs in the world. But he died penniless and alone in 1864 at the age of 37.

Foster's artistic journey was complex: he began his career as a teenager writing coarse, buffoonish songs for blackface minstrel shows, and for many people today he is best known for these crude, early songs. But that's only part of the tale.

In this myth-busting program, David tells the true, poignant story of Foster's brief life, and how in his mid-20s he experienced a deep moral awakening that changed the direction of his songwriting.

Foster sought to move beyond his racist cultural and artistic roots and create American ballads of beauty and tenderness, including some that were compassionately sympathetic to the suffering of African Americans.

The great statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said of Foster's ballads:
"They are heart songs, and the finest feelings of human nature are expressed in them... They awaken the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root, grow, and flourish"

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During this revealing presentation, David sings a dozen Foster songs in the order in which they were published—from his very first song in 1844 to his last in 1864.

The playlist includes classics like Open Thy Lattice, Love; O Susanna; Camptown Races; Nellie Was a Lady; Ah, May the Red Rose Live Alway; My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight; Old Folks at Home; Hard Times Come Again No More; Gentle Annie; and Beautiful Dreamer.

David interweaves the music with vivid historical background, igniting the imagination and bringing us closer to Foster and his songs.

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About David

The Washington Post has called David Gordon "an irresistible performer." He's a life-long troubadour whose compelling voice, keen sense of drama, and wacky humor have charmed audiences worldwide for more than 50 years.

David's international performing and recording career reaches from Bach to bluegrass, from grand opera to jazz, from Mozart to songs of the Oregon Trail. Read more here...

David Lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, author and artist Ginna Gordon. Together they run Lucky Valley Press, a boutique book editing and design firm for independent authors

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