Saturday, January 16, 2010

R.I.P.: Chilton Searcy Price

Songwriter Chilton Searcy Price Dies at 96
Louisville Courier-Journal, January 16, 2010

Chilton Searcy Price, who wrote the classic 1950s love song "You Belong to Me," died Thursday at home in eastern Louisville. She was 96.

She had continued to write songs until several months ago and was honored with the Kentucky's Governor's Award in the Arts for "Lifetime Achievement" in 2009.

Price studied music at the University of Louisville during the 1930s and was a violinist with the Louisville Orchestra in her early life. She was working as a music librarian at Louisville radio station WAVE during the 1940s, writing songs as a hobby, when she was discovered by Louisville band leader Pee Wee King and his partner Redd Stewart.

With help from the two musicians, Price was able to interest recording companies in "You Belong to Me" and "Slow Poke," each of which were chart toppers. Singer Jo Stafford's recording of "You Belong to Me" was No. 1 in both the U.S. and Great Britain in 1952.

The song was later recorded by a host of other artists, including Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Johnny Mathis, Paul Anka, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni James, the Duprees, and more recently, Tori Amos. It became part of the soundtracks of the motion pictures "Forbidden," "Shrek," "Mona Lisa Smile," and was used in various television series.

Price wrote the song "Never Look Back" for Doris Day in the M-G-M film "Love Me or Leave Me," and was a writer for orchestra leader Mitch Miller.

In recent years she teamed with Louisville singer Kenny Ray to produce CDs of several of her later works, which many of her fans believe are among her best.

One of her last compositions was "If I Never See You Again," which ends with the line, "I'll always be there in a song."

Price's husband of 65 years, Robert L. Price, died in 2000. Survivors include a daughter, Terrie Yaste (Jack) of Louisville, two granddaughters, Lee Yaste and Cathy Chilton Davis, seven great-grandchildren, and one sister, Frances Wheatley of Louisville.

At her request there will be a family-only memorial observance at a future date. Memorial gifts may be made to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or to Kosair Charities.

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