Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864) is sometimes known as “The Father of American Music” for the many popular and sentimental songs that he wrote in the mid 1800s. Born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Foster lived many years in Pittsburgh and wrote several songs for the Christy Minstrels who through their tours spread Foster’s songs far and wide. Among the songs made popular by Christy were “Camptown Races” (1850), “Nelly Bly” (1850), “Old Folks at Home” (known also as “Swanee River”, 1851), “My Old Kentucky Home” (1853), “Old Dog Tray” (1853), and “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair” (1854), written for his wife Jane Denny McDowell.
“Old Dog Tray” shows Foster’s love of dogs, especially in the words to the chorus: “Old dog Tray’s ever faithful; Grief cannot drive him away; He’s gentle, he is kind, I’ll never, never find A better friend than old dog Tray.”
This arrangement comes from Brass Band Journal published in 1854. It was recorded at Grace University on August 23, 2015.