Hoagy Carmichael. Ray Charles. Two musicians, one from Indiana, one from Georgia, with at least one wonderful thing in common: “Georgia on My Mind.”
In 1930, Carmichael wrote the music and Stuart Gorrell the lyrics to a song some think is about Carmichael’s sister Georgia—the lyrics are ambiguous enough to be about a woman or a place—but Hoagy later confirmed it was about our state. Carmichael and his orchestra first recorded the song in September 1930 with Hoagy on vocals. It was recorded dozens of times over the next 30 years and many times since by a host of artists. But unforgettably, in 1960, Ray Charles recorded the song about his home for his album, The Genius Hits the Road. It went to number one all over America. In 1979, Charles played and sang it before the Georgia General Assembly. They made it Georgia’s official state song that same year.
The legendary singer who made Georgia’s official song his unofficial anthem died on June 10, 2004, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.