Julep Song, 1904. Will Marion Cook, 1869-1944. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1508.C
Will Marion Cook's musical The Southerners remains a milestone in the history of Broadway theater. Premiering at the New York Theater on May 12, 1904, The Southerners was the first Broadway musical to feature a racially integrated cast. Characters with speaking parts were portrayed by white actors in blackface and were supported by an all-black chorus of singers and dancers. Cook's wife, Abbie Mitchell, was one of the featured singers in the non-speaking role of Mandy Lou.
Julep Song, with lyrics by Richard Grant, was a first-act chorus in The Southerners. Set for TTBB male voices, the chorus extols the Southern beverage and toasts the health of Southern girls. The two unison verses are set in a lilting 6/8 meter, changing to 2/4 to introduce a unison refrain, "So here's a health to the Southern girl, I quaff in a Southern brew. . . . You may keep all the wine if you think it divine. The good old mint julep for me." The entire refrain is repeated in four-part harmony; the score also includes a simpler, two-part ossia of the refrain.
Julep Song was first published in the piano/vocal score of The Southerners in 1904 by York Music Co., New York. The popularity of the piece prompted a solo edition published in the same year by John H. Cook Publishing Co., New York. John H. Cook was Will Marion's brother.