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Florida State Anthem

Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)   Adopted: June 30, 2008

Florida's state anthem: Land of flowers, mockingbirds, gators, where the sawgrass meets the sky

Florida State Anthem
Florida State Anthem:
Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)
Everglades National Park, Florida

On May 15, 2007, the Florida Music Educators Association, with the support of Florida State Senator Tony Hill, Governor Charlie Crist, and others, launched a contest to choose a new state song. With a website supporting the project, by offering a forum for suggestions and submissions, and submission guidelines, the "Just Sing, Florida!" contest was off and running.

Florida State Anthem

The "Just Sing, Florida!" contest ran from May 15 to October 1, 2007.

243 entries were reviewed by a 6-member panel, composed of members of the Florida Music Educators Association. The panel initially winnowed the entries to the top twenty with the greatest potential. This group of candidates was then slashed to three top choices. The top three selections were posted to the "Just Sing, Florida!" website in December, 2007 and citizens were urged to express their preference online.

The final three panel selections were "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)," by Jan Hinton of Boynton Beach, "My Florida Home," by Cristopher Marshall of Orlando; and "Florida, My Home," by Carl Ashley of Boynton Beach and Betsy Dixon of Lantana.

Once the contest winner was announced, Senator Tony Hill and Representative Ed Homan were prepared to file legislation to formally change the state song.

Florida State Anthem
Florida State Anthem: Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)
Composer Jan Hinton accepts award from "Just Sing, Florida!"

Internet voting commenced in December, 2007 and ended on January 10, 2008.

But real concern developed about the methodology used to select the contest winner. There were complaints about the lack of public participation in the process and, indeed, only three of the 243 song offerings were actually offered to public opinion. Those three offerings had been selected by the members of the Florida Music Educator's Association.

"Florida's Song," performed at the inauguration ceremony of Governor Charlie Crist, was thought to be a viable candidate but, surprisingly, did not make the Committee's final cut.

On January 7, three days before the "Just Sing, Florida!" contest ended, TransMedia Group, representing a committee, "Hold the Florida State Song Vote," issued a press release urging an end to the "Just Sing, Florida!" voting and urging the Legislature to designate Florida's Welcome Song, "Florida," by Lawrence Hurwit and Israel Abrams, the official song of the State of Florida.

Newly Formed Committee Seeks to Include Florida's Official Welcome Song, Florida' as Official State Song

MIAMI, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A newly formed committee, 'Hold the Florida State Song Vote', has retained TransMedia Group to publicize their campaign to stop the vote seeking to replace The Swanee River with a new state song and name Florida, Florida's current Welcome Song, as the official state song. Florida, written by Lawrence Hurwit and Israel Abrams, was named the official state welcome song in 1985.

"Florida is a catchy song that evokes light-heartedness and fun – all things associated with the Snshine State. Florida was written after Governor of Florida Bob Graham requested that Hurwit create an official song and the Florida House of Representatives voted in the song. It only makes sense to name the official state song as one already deemed important by our government," said Tom Madden, Founder and CEO of TransMedia Group.

With Hurwit's successful background in composing and orchestrating music, Governor Graham asked Hurwit to use Florida as an inspiration for a song.

"Being a tourist turned long-time resident of Florida, I tapped into my experiences to write this ballad. After all, Florida welcomes people around the world to come and bask in sun with us," said Lawrence Hurwit.

The voting for the song ends on January 10th and Florida is not among the finalists chosen. The committee to 'Hold the Florida State Song Vote' urges Florida residents to visit www.floridawelcomesong.com. Committee member Susan Cutaia says, "We already have an official song and it's been ignored in this competition. All we want is for everyone to hear Florida and then decide for themselves if it's worthy to be considered a finalist." The winner will be decided by popular vote at www.justsingflorida.org.

Florida State Anthem
Florida State Anthem:
Florida
(Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)

Also on January 7, State Representative Dave Murzin filed House Bill No. 463 nominating "Oh Florida, My Sweet Home," by Graham W. Fountain and Warren L. Halstrom, as Florida's official state anthem! Rep. Murzin said that many of his constituents preferred to keep the current state song and didn't like any of the three candidates proposed by the Florida Music Educator's Association.

The winner of the "Just Sing, Florida!" contest was announced at noon on January 11, 2008. Receiving more than half of the 8,020 votes cast, "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)," by Jan Hinton, seemed an overwhelming favorite.

Senator Tony Hill and Representative Ed Homan crafted legislation to declare the winner of the ""Just Sing, Florida!"!" contest the official state song of Florida, replacing "The S'wanee River (Old Folks at Home)."

"Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)" was poised to become Florida's new state song until, that is, things got complicated. There was still plenty of support for "S'wanee River (Old Folks at Home)" in the Florida State Legislature; enough to make it a rocky ride for a new state song.

Senate Bill No. 1558 (SB1558) was crafted to declare the winner of the "Just Sing, Florida!" contest Florida's new state song. A companion bill, House Bill No. 825 (HB825) was prepared for introduction in the Florida House of Representatives.

Florida Senate - 2008                              SB 1558
By Senator Hill

1-03299-08                                         20081558__

A bill to be entitled

An act relating to official state designations; creating s. 15.0326, F.S.; designating the song "Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" as the official state song; providing an effective date.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Section 15.0326, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

15.0326 State song.--The song "Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky," music and lyrics written by Jan Hinton, is designated as the official song of the State of Florida.

Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

SB1558 was filed in the Senate on February 5, 2008. HB825 was filed in the House on the same day.

On March 13, 2008, HB825 was unexpectedly reported favorably out of the House Committee on Tourism and Trade with a 6-0 vote.

On the same day SB1558 was reported favorably out of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations, barely. The vote was 3-2.

One Senator, objecting to replacing the state song with a new one, said that the current song was especially important to those who live in districts where the Suwannee River flowed. Another claimed that the new song was too difficult for children to sing.

"This is history," said Sen. Stephen Oelrich, R-Gainesville, whose district is surrounded by the Suwannee. "I'm not in favor of changing the song. Nor are my constituents."

Oelrich's chief of staff, Michael Preston, said the senator has received "hundreds of calls from people saying 'Don't change the song.' We haven't had any calls in support of changing it. People have a sense of heritage with the song. They grew up around the Suwannee."

(Colavecchio "Rural Florida legislators balk at replacing state song")

In the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Senator King voted reluctantly in favor of SB1558, allowing it to proceed to the Committee on Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations. He warned, however, that he was not likely to vote in favor of it again.

Senator King's warning likely meant trouble for SB1558. King was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and the bill would have to pass out of that committee before it was allowed a full vote of the Senate.

"Tony Hill has fought the good fight on this," King said. "But I would be surprised at this point if we don't end up passing the old song with new words, at least in the Senate."

(Colavecchio "Rural Florida legislators balk at replacing state song")

This explained King's first affirmative vote.

Senate Bill No. 1558 was re-written designating "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)" the official state anthem instead of the official state song. "The S'wanee River (Old Folks at Home)," re-titled "Old Folks at Home" and with a new set of lyrics would be Florida's official state song.

ENROLLED                                                 SB 1558, 1st Engrossed
2008 Legislature                                         20081558er

An act relating to official state designations; creating s. 15.0326, F.S.; designating the song "Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" as the official state anthem; creating s. 15.0327, F.S.; designating the song "Old Folks at Home," revised lyrics, as adopted by the Center for American Music, Stephen Foster Memorial, at the University of Pittsburgh, as the official state song; providing an effective date.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Section 15.0326, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

15.0326 State anthem.--The song "Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky," music and lyrics written by Jan Hinton, is designated as the official anthem of the State of Florida.

Section 2. Section 15.0327, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

15.0327 State song.--The song "Old Folks at Home," revised lyrics, as adopted by the Center for American Music, Stephen Foster Memorial, at the University of Pittsburgh, is designated as the official song of the State of Florida.

Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

The modified Senate Bill No. 1558 won approval in the Senate and the House of Representatives and was forwarded to Governor Charlie Crist.

On June 30, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist reluctantly signed Senate Bill No. 1558 designating "Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky), Florida's official state anthem and "Old Folks at Home" Florida's official state song. Referring to "S'wanee River (Old Folks at Home),"

"I didn't have it played at my inauguration for a reason," Crist said this week, disappointed with the compromise reached by lawmakers to update the song and add an anthem. Crist said the agreement made the state look "confused."

(Kallestad "“Swanee River” will remain state song")

Florida, Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky

Words & lyrics by Jan Hinton

Florida, where the sawgrass meets the sky,
Florida, where our hearts will ever lie,
Sitting proud in the ocean like a sentinel true,
Always shielding your own yet giving welcome.

Florida, land of flowers, land of light,
Florida, where our dreams can all take flight,
Whether youth's vibrant morning or the twilight of years,
There are treasures for all who venture here - in Florida.

Mocking birds cry and 'gators lie out in the sun
Bridges span southward to the Keys and rockets skyward run,
The orange blossoms' sweet perfume and fireworks fill the air,
And cultures rich, our native people share.

Florida, where the sawgrass meets the sky,
Florida, where our hearts will ever lie,
Sitting proud in the ocean like a sentinel true,
Always shielding your own yet giving welcome.

Florida, land of flowers, land of light,
Florida, where our dreams can all take flight,
Whether youth's vibrant morning or the twilight of years,
There are treasures for all who venture here in Florida, Florida.
	

Sources...

Colavecchio, Shannon, and Van Sickler. "Compromise to Give Florida State Song and Anthem." The Tampa Bay Times. The Tampa Bay Times, 10 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

Colavecchio, Shannon, and Van Sickler. "Rural Florida Legislators Balk at Replacing State Song." The Tampa Bay Times. The Tampa Bay Times, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

Cotterell, Bill. "Lawmaker Proposes State 'anthem' Option." Florida Today. Gannett Co., Inc., 7 Jan. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

"Florida Statutes". The Florida Legislature, <http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?Mode=View%20Statutes&Submenu=1&Tab=statutes>, January 28, 2009.

Kallestad, Brent. "“Swanee River” Will Remain State Song." South Florida Times. Beatty Media, LLC., 25 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

"Lawmakers Launch Contest to Pick New State Song." WJHG News Channel 7. Gray Television, Inc., 27 Mar. 2007. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

"Residents React to State Song Compromise." WCTV-TV. Gray Television, Inc., 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.

"Senate 1558: Relating to Official State Anthem and Official State Song." Florida Senate Website Archive. State of Florida, 30 June 2008. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.

"'Swanee River' Will Remain State Song." South Florida Times Beatty Media, LLC., 25 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.


Additional Information

State anthems: Complete list of official state anthems from NETSTATE.COM

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Florida state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

State Songs of America
State Songs
of America

Michael J. Bristow

State Songs of America, by Michael J. Bristow. 185 pages. Publisher: Greenwood (February 28, 2000)

State Songs of America provides the music and lyrics for the official songs adopted by the state governments. Arranged alphabetically by state, each song has a single vocal line over a piano accompaniment, with one verse only under the vocal line and remaining verses appearing separately. Each entry includes the date the song was adopted, the name of the composer, and in some instances, a brief history of the song. The book will be a useful reference for those wanting to perform a state song or to find the official songs of other states. Keep in mind that this book was published in 2000 and does not contain later adoptions.

State Songs: Anthems and Their Origins
State Songs:
Anthems and Their Origins

John Hladczuk
Sharon Schneider Hladczuk

State Songs: Anthems and Their Origins, by John Hladczuk, Sharon Schneider Hladczuk. 240 pages. Publisher: Scarecrow Press (September 26, 2000)

State Songs: Anthems and Their Origins is a tremendous resource, from which readers will gain insight into the heritage of American statehood. Histories of these songs, biographical information about the composers and lyricists, and background on each song's entrance into status as "official" make this source the most comprehensive in existence. The entries include sheet music, allowing readers to reproduce for themselves the tunes that have proved so important in the history of the Union. Music teachers, history teachers, librarians, and anyone else interested in learning more about the United States will not want to be without State Songs. Organized alphabetically by state. Keep in mind that this book was published in 2000 and does not contain later adoptions.

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