Reached U.S. Billboard Charts #12 – 1931 (3 weeks) – That’s Why Darkies Were Born was a popular song written by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown. It originated in George White’s Scandals of 1931. It was most famously recorded by Kate Smith, whose rendition was a hit in 1931, and by Paul Robeson.
It was also featured in a 1931 all-star recording of a medley of songs from George White’s Scandals, where it was sung by Frank Munn on Brunswick and just as famously part of Paul Whiteman medley sung by Mildred Bailey on Victor.
The song is referenced in: The Marx Brothers film Duck Soup, when Groucho Marx’s character Rufus T. Firefly says, “My father was a little headstrong, my mother was a little armstrong. The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs, and that’s why darkies were born.”
Gordon and Revel’s satirical song “Underneath The Harlem Moon”, recorded by Don Redman in 1932 and by Randy Newman in 1970, explains: “They just live for dancing, They’re never blue or forlorn, Ain’t no sin to laugh or grin, That’s why darkies were born.”
Lyrics: Someone had to pick the cotton, Someone had to plant the corn, Someone had to slave and be able to sing, That’s why darkies were born; Someone had to laugh at trouble, Though he was tired and worn, Had to be contented with any old thing, That’s why darkies were born; Sing, sing, sing when you’re weary and Sing when you’re blue, Sing, sing, that’s what you taught All the white folks to do; Someone had to fight the Devil, Shout about Gabriel’s Horn, Someone had to stoke the train That would bring God’s children to green pastures, That’s why darkies were born.