Hymns & Spirituals

Patriotic Odes

Minstrels & Musicals

Protest Songs


Audio Clips

"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny."
Gluck, Alma. R*E*S*P*E*C*T: a century of women in music. R2 75815. Rhino Entertainment, 1999 [Recorded 1914]. CD 8687

QuickTime   MP3

Virginiana:  Old Virginia Blues

Written in 1875 by prolific African-American composer and popular entertainer James Bland, "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia" (originally known as "Virginny") was adopted in 1940 as the official state song of Virginia. In 1970, then-Senator Douglas L. Wilder objected to the song's lyrics with their romanticized view of slavery. This objection officially initiated a controversy that remains unresolved three decades later.

During his tenure as governor (1990-1994), Wilder continued to urge retirement of "Carry Me Back," and in 1997, the song finally was relegated to the enigmatic status of "State Song Emeritus." A 1998 competition to pick a new state song resulted in a short list of eight finalists. Since then, the process has continued to attract international attention and controversy. One contestant filed a lawsuit. A bill to make sausage maven and political donor Jimmy Dean's anthem "Virginia" the official song led to allegations of favoritism and influence peddling. Now in hiatus, the subcommittee has no immediate plans to reconvene, and any vote would have to pass both houses of the General Assembly, with the governor having the final word.

Bland, James A. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny. Boston: Oliver Ditson; New York: Chas. H. Ditson; Chicago: Lyon & Healy, [1913].

Cohan, George M. I Was Born in Virginia: (Ethel Levey's Virginia Song). New York: F.B. Haviland, 1933.

Story, [Oliver E.]. Rose of Virginia. Lyric by Jack Caddigan. New York: McCarthy & Fischer, 1920.

Cheiffetz, Hymon. Virginia Lullaby. Buffalo, NY: H.C. Weasner, [1928?].

Gumble, Albert. If You Ever Come Down to Virginia There'll Be Nothing Too Good for You. Lyric by A. Seymour Brown. New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1915.

Meinken, Fred. Virginia Blues. Lyric by Ernie Erdman. New York: Leo. Feist, 1922.

Hoffmann, Max. Down in Virginia. Norfolk, VA: Nusbaum Book and Art Co., 1907.

Cohan, Geo[rge] M. Ethel Levey's Virginia Song. New York: F.A. Mills, 1906.

Siemon, Wm. The Virginia Guards Grand March and Quick Step. Baltimore: Geo. Willig, Junr., 1842.

Purchased with the Coles Fund

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