Go back

Popular World War I classic “K-K-K-Katy” inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

Media Releases

Alex Pangman pays tribute to Geoffrey O’Hara’s iconic song as part of CSHF and CBC/Radio-Canada’s ‘Covered Classics’ series

TORONTO, August 1, 2016 – The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is pleased to announce the induction of K-K-K-Katy, a lovely comic masterpiece and popular World War I song written by Geoffrey O’Hara. To celebrate the songs induction, Canada’s sweet heart of swing, Juno Award nominee Alex Pangman, performs her rendition of K-K-K-Katy as part of the Hall of Fame and CBC/Radio-Canada’s Covered Classics series; her performance can be seen here.

“Geoffery O’Hara’s song K-K-K-Katy captured a sense of sweetness and innocence amidst a time of war and uncertainty,” says Alex Pangman. “It was such a pleasure to perform this song as part of the Covered Classics Series.”

K-K-K-Katy was an enormous success for Chatham-born Geoffrey O’Hara. Written in 1917, the song was published a year later and spread like wildfire via gramophone recordings, sheet music, and word of mouth. K-K-K-Katy became known as a ‘goodbye song’ and was sung from coast to coast, and by the Canadian, U.S. and British troops overseas. By 1921, K-K-K-Katy had sold over 1.5 million copies of sheet music.

A fine example of a comic novelty song, K-K-K-Katy tells the story of a brave soldier named Jimmy who becomes tongue-tied with nerves when confronted with a beautiful girl named Katy. It is considered to be one of the most famous stuttering songs of all time.

Billy Murray, the popular tenor, helped popularize the song with his Victor recording in 1918. So great was the song’s popularity that by year’s end covers had been recorded by Eugene Buckley (pseudonym of Arthur Fields), the Marconi Brothers, Arthur Hall, John McDermott and Robert Lloyd.

K-K-K-Katy experienced a resurgence with World War II, being recorded by the Mellomen Quartet, Ray Benson and His Orchestra, Buddy Clark, and Mel Blanc in the 1940s. In the 1950s, recordings by The Four Sergeants, The West Point Cadet Glee Club, Meyer Davis and his orchestra, and ragtime pianist Johnny Maddox sustained its popularity.

The television shows “The Waltons,” “Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall,” and “Boardwalk Empire” have played K-K-K-Katy to evoke its era, and it was sung in the war films “Pack Up Your Troubles” (1932), “The Shopworn Angel” (1938), “Tin Pan Alley” (1940), “For Me and My Gal” (1942), and “The Fighting Rats of Tobruk” (1944), and was referred to in the famous “The Way We Were” (1973) with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.

Geoffrey O’Hara (1882-1967), a Canadian-American songwriter, composer, singer and musician, was born and educated in Chatham, Ontario. As a teenager, he enrolled at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. Before long, many of the men in that regiment found themselves fighting at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. However, the world had another fate in store for O’Hara: music.

After his father died, O’Hara was forced to retire from the military. He headed south to perform on the Vaudeville circuit in the U.S. and soon landed a job with Edison Records, working in the recording industry. The American government hired him to record traditional First Nations songs and then – after war had broken out – to work as an instructor teaching patriotic tunes to the troops. O’Hara’s life was dedicated to music: he lectured about it, taught it, recorded it and performed it. A charter member of ASCAP, he taught song-writing at Columbia University.

A collaboration between the CSHF and CBC/Radio-Canada, Covered Classics invites Canada’s finest musical talent to perform their version of a classic song to celebrate its induction into the Hall of Fame.

To view 2015 and 2016 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame song inductions and the Covered Classics performances, click here.

About the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (www.uatcshf.ca) honours and celebrates Canadian songwriters and those who have dedicated their lives to the legacy of music, and works to educate the public about these achievements. National and non-profit, the Hall of Fame is guided by its own board of directors who comprise both Anglophone and Francophone music creators and publishers, as well as representation from the record industry. In December 2011, SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) acquired the Hall of Fame. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s mandate aligns with SOCAN’s objectives as a songwriter and publisher membership-based organization.

About CBCMusic.ca
CBCMusic.ca (www.cbcmusic.ca) is Canada’s free digital music service connecting Canadians with the very best in Canadian and international music, concerts and features. Simple and easy to navigate, CBCMusic.ca gives music fans access to 50 Web radio stations, 12 distinct genre-based music communities, CBC Radio 2 and CBC Radio 3, plus content from the most knowledgeable music personalities and programmers from across the country, hundreds of concerts, playlists and more.

About ICIMusique.ca
ICIMusique.ca (www.icimusique.ca) is Radio-Canada’s online music platform. It allows Canadians to stream live radio, and listen to over 150 channels of web radio, albums streaming, special features and music news.

Media contact, to arrange an interview:
Christine Liber, Liberty Ink Communications (for CSHF)
Christine@LibertyInk.ca, 416-651-4722 x 1

Latest News
May 17, 2024

Bruce Cockburn: A Career in Review and the Future Sound of Music

May 14, 2024

Nick Fedor Promoted to Executive Director of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame