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Born in Bloomington in 1899, Carmichael has been heralded as the "most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented” song composer of the early 20th century. Carmichael was interested in music from an early age and taught himself to play piano by ear. After his family moved to Indianapolis in 1916, Carmichael began playing piano in local bars and restaurants. He befriended fellow piano player Reggie Duvall who introduced Carmichael to prominent ragtime musicians including Jelly Roll Morton and Louie Armstrong. Carmichael attended Indiana University and after graduating, briefly practiced law in Florida. After hearing one of his songs on the radio, he decided to return to Bloomington and become a full-time composer. In 1936, he married Ruth Meinardi, a New York City model, and together they had two sons. The family eventually moved to New York and later California where Carmichael gained fame and popularity for his compositions. He authored four of the most recorded American songs of all time: “Stardust,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “The Nearness of You” and “Heart and Soul.” He earned a number of awards and recognitions throughout his life including the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.”
Carmichael spent his later years in Los Angeles indulging in various hobbies including golf, coin collecting and painting. He died in 1981 and is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington.