Behind “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a classic, jazz standard in the annals of American music history. The song is penned by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks and lyrics written by Andy Razaf in 1929. It’s been performed for nearly a 100 years by some of the greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum and Ray Charles. The song even received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1984.

In the same year, the song became the title of a musical. 

Fats Waller
Photo: Last.fm

The musical is a tribute to artists from the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920’s and ’30s, when jazz was a popular form of music. Historic music venues like the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom, which serve as the setting for the musical, gave many jazz greats their first gigs.

Fats Waller, born Thomas Wright Waller (1904-1943), was a pianist, singer, composer, comedian and organist. He was a talented stride pianist and played Dixieland, swing and ragtime jazz. He gained international success and spent time in Europe touring and performing. He wrote many jazz songs like “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” and “After You’ve Gone,” but is most noted for the cherished classic, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

The song is a mid-tempo jazz ballad that features New Orleans style stride piano and brass interludes.The fluidity of the song enables musicians to interpret the classic as their own and mixed within other genres. Here are some classic, fun, and creative interpretations of “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”

1. Fats Waller and band 

2. Louie Armstrong and his orchestra
3. Billie Holiday

4. The Muppets

5. Hank Williams, Jr.
6. This u
kulele Solo
7. Barbershop Quartet
8. Swedish Boys Choir

9. Mandola and Fiddle Duo

10. 10-year old guitar player and vocalist

If you go: Produced by Art Forms & Theatre Concepts. May 24-25 at 5pm; May 31 at 8pm; June 1 at 2pm. Tickets: $26 Adults; $21 Seniors; $16 Students. Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St.