K-K-K-Katy Celebrates A Milestone Anniversary

A classic soldier’s love song that a Chatham man wrote during World War I is marking its 100th anniversary on Thursday.

K-K-K-Katy was written by Geoffrey O’Hara and recorded by American tenor Billy Murray on March 8, 1918.

You can click the link below to listen to it:

Jim Gilbert, the president of the Kent Historical Society, says the song has withstood the test of time to become a well-known serenade, even a century later.

“My 7-year-old grandson knows about this song as well as someone who is 97 years old — it’s got something to it,” says Gilbert. “That’s the importance of any good music or poem or literature or play or whatever — it’s got to be something that transcends time… and I think K-K-K-Katy does it.”

While the song shares the story of a fictional lovesick soldier, Jimmy, the object of his affection is believed to be based on someone who O’Hara knew personally. Gilbert says Katy is based on a woman named Katherine Craig Richardson who O’Hara met in Kingston, ON when he was younger.

“[O’Hara] fell in love with her — unfortunately it wasn’t reciprocated by Katherine,” says Gilbert. “He really cared for her and although it didn’t go anywhere, he never forgot her and that is apparently who he wrote it about.”

Gilbert says anyone who is interested in learning more about Geoffrey O’Hara can come out to the Kent Historical Society’s cemetery tour, which features actors portraying characters from Chatham-Kent’s past. That is scheduled to take place again in October.

You can also hear more information about O’Hara and his iconic song by listening to the full interview with Jim Gilbert below: