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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division

The Crusader

Andy Razaf

Among the few African immigrants who had come voluntarily to live in the United States in the nineteenth century was a small group of Malagasy elite who had taken refuge after the French invaded their country and exiled their queen. Andreamentania Paul Razafkeriefo (1895-1973), although born in Washington, D.C., was part of this movement. His grandfather, John Louis Waller, was a former Missouri slave who had become consul to Madagascar, where his daughter, fifteen-year-old Jennie Maria, had married Henri Razafkeriefo, a nephew of Queen Ranavalona III. Just before his son's birth in exile, Razafkeriefo was killed by the French, who had invaded Madagascar. At sixteen, Andy Razaf, as he was known, took a job as an elevator operator in Tin Pan Alley, the area in midtown Manhattan where most music publishers were located. The next year he sold his first song and soon became one of the most important lyricists in American musical theater, writing hundreds of songs. He is the author of such famous hits as "Black and Blue," "Honeysuckle Rose," and "Ain't Misbehavin'." His collaboration with Thomas "Fats" Waller was extremely successful, and his songs were performed by such legends as Eubie Blake, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. In 1972 Razaf was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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