Official state gospel song proposed
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, December 25, 2010
12/25/10 at 4:55 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Tulsa lawmaker wants to make "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" the state's official gospel song.
Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, said some board members of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame made the suggestion.
"I decided that is a good idea," McIntyre said.
Senate Bill 73 says "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was written and composed by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman living in Indian Territory before 1862.
"I have heard that song all of my life and never knew it was written by someone in Oklahoma," McIntyre said.
She realizes the measure could generate controversy and that the Legislature has important issues to address.
"I am not married to this," McIntyre said. "I want this to happen but do not want this to be a center of controversy."
In the past, lawmakers have sparred over the state rock song and state vegetable.
In 2009, Oklahoma City band Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize? ? " was selected the state rock song in an online contest. After the House killed the measure making the designation official because of a shirt that one of the band members wore to the Capitol, Gov. Brad Henry stepped in to sign an executive order.
In 2007, the watermelon was declared the state vegetable, even though some argued that it is really a fruit.
Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, said that he enjoys singing and listening to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" but has some reservations about declaring it the state gospel song.
"Where are we going to stop with naming everything someone can think of the official state whatever?" he said. "I respect Sen. McIntyre. She is a dear friend of mine. I think we have a whole lot more things on the agenda other than what our gospel song will be of the state."
Senate President Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said any lawmaker can file any legislation they want.
"We certainly will look at it," Bingman said.
But crafting a state budget will be a priority, he said.
"I hope we are not required to sing it as a body on the floor," Bingman said. "We might do an injustice to that song."
The official list
If McIntyre's measure to declare a state gospel song passes, it will join a growing list of "official" state emblems:
Flower: Oklahoma rose.
Floral emblem: Mistletoe (state's oldest emblem, adopted in 1893).
Rock: Rose rock.
Bird: Scissor-tailed flycatcher.
Fish: White or sand bass.
Animal (mammal): American buffalo.
Reptile: Collared lizard or mountain boomer.
Musical instrument: Fiddle.
Folk song: "Oklahoma Hills" by Woody and Jack Guthrie.
Rock song: "Do You Realize? ? " by the Flaming Lips.
Waltz: "Oklahoma Wind."
Country and western song: "Faded Love" by John Wills and Bob Wills.
Source: Oklahoma Almanac
Original Print Headline: Senator proposes state gospel song
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465