Attempt to Make Bluegrass Tune New Virginia State Song Fails

Bill to adopt 'At Home in Virginia' fails

It's hard to make it in the music world, and it’s even harder to make it as a state song.

This week, Richmond Delegate Betsy Carr's proposal for a new state song, "At Home in Virginia," was shot down in committee.

Carr's bill read:

Whereas, the Commonwealth has no official song because "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," declared the official song of the Commonwealth in 1940, was declared the official song emeritus of the Commonwealth in 1997; and

Whereas, the official song should reference the rich tradition of the Commonwealth and invoke images of the natural and scenic beauty its citizens celebrate; and

Whereas, the Commonwealth requires an official song that can be sung on all occasions with pride and affection; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That "At Home in Virginia," by Evi Burgin, be designated as the official song of the Commonwealth

The bluegrass-inflected ditty is an homage to all things Commonwealth.  Here's a little sample of the lyrics:

"From beyond the blue Ridge mountains

to the sea shore or the bay

Sunset in Virginia

Could take your breath away."

You can check the tune out on YouTube.

On Tuesday, the bill was tabled by a House Rules Committee voice vote, the Loudoun Times reports.

The former song of Virginia, "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," was loved by some, but labeled racist by others.  In 1997, the song was designated "state song emeritus," effectively taking it out of rotation for state ceremonies or school choirs.  In 1998, the state tried holding a contest to name a replacement, but after a few years it fizzled.

To the east, Maryland's state song has enjoyed a long and scandal free tenure.  In 1939, the state adopted the song "Maryland, My Maryland" as its official tune.  That song was drawn from a nine-stanza Civil War-era poem of the same name, written by James Ryder Randall.

A sampling from "Maryland, My Maryland":

The despot's heel is on thy shore,


His torch is at thy temple door,


Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore,

And be the battle queen of yore,

Maryland! My Maryland!

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