Virginia Needs a state Song-and This Is It!

For a number of years now, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been seeking an official state song. A competition was held, but none of the entries seemed to really stand out. Frustrated, state legislators were about to make "Shenandoah" the official. Now, it’s a wonderful song, but here’s the problem- it’s not necessarily about the Shenandoah river valley in Virgina. This entry on Wikipedia tells the story of the song and the abortive attempt to make it the official song of the Commonwealth.

My friend and professional colleague, Carol Boyd Leon, a log-time Virgina resident, and talented songwriter (primarily in Jewish music) who happened to compose the song that George Mason University selected as its new Alma mater, Patriot’s Dreams, decided to take a crack at a state song for Virgina. The result was " Virgina, Ever Enshrined." With the sponsorship of two local state delegates, the song will be submitted for consideration by a committee and the legislature in this term. Carol was fortunate to have a talented daughter, Sarah Boyd, now embarked on a career as a professional theatrical music director, arranged the song for choir, and recruited a few friends from the College of William & Mary from which she graduated last year to record it. That recording was distributed to all state legislators near the end of last year’s term. You can listen to that recording here.

Wanting to demonstrate the versatility of the song for use in different settings and different styles, Carol wanted to record another version. Carol and I have been professional musical partners for some years now, and we sought the right voice and style for the song.

Last fall, we discovered the right voice. We were attending an interfaith concert for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in northern Virginia at Vienna Baptist Church in Vienna, VA. Carol was there with her adult choir from Olam Tikvah, a Conservative congregation in Fairfax, VA, and I was there to accompany them. (As an aside, it was a wonderful evening with Jewish, Christian and Muslim music. Hearing and seeing Native Deen, an incredible Muslim hip-hop trio based in D.C., with international reputation, perform, was an absolute pelasure. ) There was a singer in the Christian praise band, Works in Progress, from nearby Vienna Presbyterian Church which performed that had the right voice. His name was Doug Traxler.

Recently, the three of us were able to get together at our favorite local studio, Cue Recording in Falls Church, VA, and record a demo of a more pop style version of the song which you can listen to here. (You can also hear recordings of a number of Carol’s songs there. )

Delegates Marsden and Englin plan to introduce a bill in the 2007 Virginia legislative session to make "Virginia, Ever Enshrined" the official state song of Virginia. If you are a Virginia resident and would like this song approved as the official state song, please contact your legislators! Go to http://legis.state.va.us/Under QUICK LINKS, click on "Who’s My Legislator" and type in your address.

By the way, the District of Columbia has no official song either, and Carol is attempting to fill that gap as well with this song, "By George, It’s Washington!" Thought it’s only recorded in a very rough demo form, I’m trying to persuade Carol to post it so you can give that a listen as well. I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, one doesn’t usually earn royalties or other payments for writing these kinds of official songs for states, cities, or universities, so even though I’ve worked with Carol on these, my reasons for blogging this are not commercially motivated!!

If you happen to be Jewish, and have kids or know someone who has kids, you ought to buy a copy of Carol’s 2-CD set, "Gan Shirim" with 70 new Jewish songs for children, published by KTAV, the only Jewish album to win a 2004 Parent’s Choice Award, and 4th place finalist in the 2006 Just Plain Folks Music Awards best Jewish album category. If you’re a teacher in a Jewish school, you should have a copy of the CD and the songbook as well–it’s chock full of ideas for using the songs. And you will find songs to fill needs that just aren’t found anywhere else. (That’s why she wrote many of them-to fill needs for songs when she was teaching.) By the way, this isn’t one of those Disney-ized children’s CDs, with a perfect choir of kids singing. That’s Carol’s voice of most of the songs, and real kids, and their un-studio-magicked voices. Your kids will know that they can sing these songs, and won’t be intimidated by them. Oh, and I’m the nut that came up with and played the accompaniment for all 70 tunes. In essentially one week. There’s a nutsy week of my life I might blog about someday…

Happy listening,

Midgalor Guy (aka Adrian)

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About migdalorguy

Jewish Educator & Musician, Technology Nerd and all around nice Renaissance guy
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