James Kern (Kay) Kyser (born in Rocky Mount, NC in 1905) was a bandleader from UNC-Chapel Hill who after graduation took his band on the road and became one of the most popular and well-paid bandleaders of his time. He appeared in a dozen movies and had 35 top ten hits in the 1930's and 1940's. He is credited with taking "The Woody Woodpecker Song" and "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" to the top of the charts. He is even credited with writing "Honest John" and "Monstro the Whale" both from Walt Disney's Pinocchio. (I am a little disturbed by all the Pinocchio references in my blog.) In 1943, Kay married Georgia Carroll, a blonde bombshell fashion model who had joined his band called the Kollege of Musical Knowledge. After retiring from showbiz, Kay and Georgia returned to Chapel Hill and lived until Kay's death in 1985. (I think that Georgia Kyser is still living off Frankin Street.)
My favorite song of Kay Kyser is the UNC-Chapel Hill alma mater called "Hark the Sound." Although the lyrics have been updated since it was written, it is still the best song around (especially for basketball season) and you know that it will be sung around North Carolina TONIGHT!!!!
In case you need a refresher on the lyrics:
Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices. Ringing clear and true
Singing Carolina's praises shouting N.C.U.
Hail to the brightest star of all. Clear its radiance shine
Carolina priceless gem. Receive all praises thine
I'm a Tar Heel born. I'm a Tar Heel bred
And when I die I'm a Tar Heel dead
So RAH RAH, Car'lina, `lina RAH RAH,
RAH RAH, Car'lina RAH RAH RAH!
My dad first taught me this song when I was little and our family would gather around the TV to watch UNC Basketball games... during the days of Dean Smith. We always turned down the sound on the TV to listen to Woody Durham annouce the game on the radio. And then of course, as a UNC student, I would scream the song at basketball games that I attended in the Dean Dome. I can never remember the first part of the song... all I know is the "Rah Rah" part and at the end you are supposed to scream "GO TO HELL, DUKE!" Hmm, I wonder how Kay would feel about that.
LET'S GO TARHEELS!!!!!!!!