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Rhythm is His Business


College has always been as necessary to Hal Kemp, North Carolina '26, as a pair of rubbers to an elderly professor of Greek. An Alabaman nearing his 33rd year, he organized his first dance orchestra at the University of North Carolina about 15 years ago. That band would play anywhere for $32.50 an evening. Skinnay Ennis, Saxie Dowell and Ben Williams were in that band. It won a college dance-orchestra contest sponsored by a vaudeville circuit, played before the Prince of Wales in England as a prize, and from then on it was "varsity out" all the way.

A Penn State prom date got Hal Kemp his first job in New York. When he was at the Blackhawk in Chicago, nine of the Big Ten schools picked him as best. This led to his first radio commercial. Last year the theatrical weekly, Variety, polied all the colleges and Hal Kemp and the boys came out first. In 10 years Hal estimates that he has played 300 college dances in 53 schools. Four Alpha Chi Rho's from Penn State followed his band one whole summer through the East and Mid-west to dance to his music every night, and they were no Fred Astaires either.

Hal himself is a Delta Sigma Phi and Lambda Phi Epsilon and one saxophone player who finished school easily and received a degree. Of the original four Hal Kempians, Saxie Dowell and Ben Williams are Tar Heel Delta Tau Deltas. Clayton Cash is an Illinois Delt; Ralph Hallenbeck, Princeton '35, is a Triangle Club man. Dorsey Forrest is a Northwestern Zeta Psi, Bruce Milligan is from Boston U, Phil Fent is a Cornhusker (Nebraska). Needless to say, all, including Hal, usually go bare-headed and garterless.

Kemp receives about 10 original songs a week from collegians, gives them all a sympathetic ear. He is heard every Friday night on a coast-to-coast Columbia network. He has a son and daughter who are in a hurry to get to college, too.

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