Happy Birthday Song
Did you know that the most popular song in the English language was born in Louisville?
The Guinness Book of World Records awards the distinction of most popular song to “Happy Birthday to You,” the creation of sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, both Louisville educators. They wrote a book of children’s songs called Song Stories for the Kindergarten, published in 1893, with music by Mildred and lyrics by Patty. “Good Morning to All,” sometimes listed as “Good Morning to You,” was among the 72 songs included. According to The Encyclopedia of Louisville, Patty changed the words to “Happy Birthday to You” while attending a birthday party at what is now the Little Loomhouse.
The song reportedly earns $2 million in royalties every year, with the money going, in part, to an early childhood foundation established in honor of the Hills. “Happy Birthday to You” was copyrighted for the first time in 1935 and will remain copyrighted until at least the year 2030.
In 2002, under the leadership of Mayor Dave Armstrong, the city of Louisville named a city parking lot in honor of the Hill sisters. The “Happy Birthday Lot” is located just southwest of Main and Ninth streets.
And the sisters’ most enduring work has even made it into space: On March 8, 1969, it was crooned by the crew of Apollo IX.
- Program 111
- A look back at a vintage Louisville holiday; the Art Sparks gallery at the Speed Museum; workshops to help you live a healthier life; and Dr. Adewale Troutman, director of the Louisville Metro Health Department. (#111)