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Don Raye
Artist Name
Donald MacRae Wilhoite, Jr

Don Raye  Biography

b. March 16, 1909, Washington, D.C.,USA. d. January 29, 1985, Encino, CA, USA.

Raye’s father was the composer of at least one sentimental song, “Mother.” However, as a child, Raye’s talent was an accomplished dancer, even winning the ‘Virginia State Dancing Championship’. After graduating from New York University, he began working in Vaudeville as a “song and dance man”, using the name Don Raye, and began to write some songs just for his own act. Later, he toured theatres and nightclubs in France and England, and also began offering his songs to other performers.

In 1935, at age 26, he began to work full time as a composer and started to collaborate with other composers such as Sammy Cahn, and Saul Chaplin, who, like Raye, collaborated with the alto saxophonist Jimmie Lunceford leader of one of the Swing era’s best ‘hot’ orchestras. One of his songs, “Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes”, became a hit for Lunceford’s band. (Sidenote: It was Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin who brought great fame to the Andrew Sisters with their English language version of the Yiddish song “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (Means That You’re Grand)”, originally composed by Sholem Secunda and Jacob Jacobs for the 1933 Yiddish show “I Would If I Could”. ) In 1936 “Swing Me A Lullaby” (w and m. Don Raye, Hughie Prince & Tom Waring) was a hit for Connie Boswell, with Bob Crosby’s band. In the late ’30s, Raye worked for a New York City music publishing house. In early 1939, the ‘Andrews Sisters’ recorded his “Well All Right! (Tonight’s the Night), which was a hit for the girls. Then in 1940, Raye relocated to Hollywood, where he and fellow composer Hughie Prince were commissioned to write the songs for Argentine Nights, a film in which the ‘Andrews Sisters’ made their screen debut.

The team of Vic Schoen (the ‘Andrew Sisters’ arranger), Hughie Prince, and Raye wrote “Hit The Road” and “Oh! How He Loves Me”, while Raye and Prince, composed “Rhumboogie”, the first of a series of ‘boogie woogie’ numbers destined for great popular success. (Other ‘boogie’ tunes included “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar”, and “Down the Road a Piece”. Some were hit releases for the ‘Andrews Sisters’, and some for pianist Freddie Slack’s Orchestra, and for Will Bradley And His Orchestra. But boogie woogie wasn’t his only forte. One of Raye’s biggest hits was the beautiful ballad “I’ll Remember April” (co-composed with Gene de Paul). Raye composed the tune after meeting and falling in love with a lady named Pat Johnson.

In 1941, he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served during World War II. After the War, Raye returned to Hollywood, to Universal Studios, and to songwriting. Argentine Nights was the first of some 47 films that Raye would work on for the Hollywood studios, during which time Raye only ever made one acting appearance on screen. Starting in late 1941, Raye and composer Gene de Paul, began working with each other at Universal Studios. They also wrote original numbers for such movies as Samuel Goldwyn’s production of A Song Is Born, and Walt Disney’s So Dear to My Heart, and Ichabod and Mr. Toad. In 1949, Raye retired from full-time movie work, and did only some occosional songwriting, though his songs did continue to be used in movies well into the 1960s. His “Well, All Right”, written in 1959 with Frances Faye, and Dan Howell, was a hit for the ‘Andrews Sisters’, and was later interpolated into the 1978 bio-pic, The Buddy Holly Story.

A friend and visitor to our site, Mr. Joseph Adams, has fondly recalled that another of Raye’s wonderful tunes was the ‘Yiddish’ inspired “I Love You Much Too Much”, which he co-composed with Chaim Towber and Alexander Olshanetsky (original Yiddish title: “Ich Hob Doch Tzufil Lieb”, from the show The Organ Grinder). Another Olshanetsky composition was “Romania”, a huge hit in the Yiddish Theatres, which he co-wrote with Chaim Towber (aka: Tauber – composer/singer/lyricist). Towber was similarly a composer of Yiddish tunes, and perhaps his best may have been “Shein Wie Die Lewoneh” (“Pretty as a Moonbeam” – sometimes “Shein vi de l’vone”), co-composed with Yosef J. Rumshinsky. The tune was recorded by the Barry Sisters. Rumshinsky in turn often co-composed with famed Yiddish actress/composer Mollie Picon (married name: Kalich); one example being their song “Deine”. However, Rumshinsky did compose quite a few songs by himself. Towber and Olshanetsky were part of a larger group of composers of Yiddish language tunes writing, during the 1920s and 1930s, for the Yiddish Theatre district on New York City’s Second Avenue area. Other composers in that group -they all knew each other and often worked together – included Isidor Lillian, N. Stutchkoff, Moishe Oysher, Louis Gilrod, Jacques Levy, Chana and Zalmen Mlotek, Moishe Rosenfeld, and Boris Tomashefsky, to name a few. But, the story of New York’s 1920s-’30s Yiddish theatre is a tale for another day. Some other originally Yiddish songs that made it big in American (World) Pop charts include “Momele”, a huge hit as “Momma” sung by Connie Francis, and “Donna Donna”, made popular by the later Joan Baez recording.

7 Songs Composed by Don Raye

 7 Tracks Composed   Add songs to playlist
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb
  • Ikh Hob Dikh Tzufil Lieb - Ven Ikh Zol Dikh Farlirn

4 thoughts on “Kaminos”

  1. Jim Borman says:

    Was Nicholas related to Alexander Saslavsky who married Celeste Izolee Todd?

  2. Mark Goldman says:

    Anyone have a contact email for Yair Klinger or link to score for Ha-Bayta?

  3. allan wolinsky says:

    wish to have homeland concert video played on the big screen throughout North America.

    can organize here in Santa Barbara California.

    contacts for this needed and any ideas or suggestions welcomed.

  4. Orien McKee says:

    Nat farber is my great grandpa 😊

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