The Legislature seeks to repeal the current state song and create a State Songs Study Committee. Azar’s “One Mississippi” could be one of many state songs.
Tucked away in Sections 5 through 7 of a conference report for tourism funding (HB 453) is the Mississippi Legislature’s compromise to do away with the current state song, “Go, Mississippi.”
Speaker Philip Gunn filed a bill early in the 2022 session to designate Steve Azar’s “One Mississippi” as the new state song. That song was written at the request of former Governor Phil Bryant to commemorate the state’s bicentennial anniversary. That bill was not well received in the Senate and was amended to create a study committee to allow for multiple state songs to be adopted, perhaps as it was suggested by genre. Those talks initially died in conference.
However, as is often the case, the idea was not “dead, dead, dead” as lawmakers say. The effort was resurrected and attached to the tourism funding conference report referenced above, ultimately receiving votes of approval in both the House and the Senate on Thursday.
Here is what the agreement on the state song does:
- Chapter 654 which designated “Go, Mississippi” as the official song of the State of Mississippi would be repealed.
- The Legislature states that it is their desire to provide the state with numerous state songs so that Mississippians may enjoy state songs that are appropriate for all occasions, events and daily activities.
- The lyrics and music to the song “One Mississippi,” written by Steve Azar, would be designated as the contemporary music genre official song of the State of Mississippi, and until others are adopted, would be the only state song noted in law.
- A Mississippi State Songs Study Committee would be created for the purpose of developing and reporting to the Legislature its recommendation for various genres of official songs of the State of Mississippi, including, but not limited to, country, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and gospel.
The State Songs Study Committee would consist of the following persons:
- Director of the Division of Tourism at the Mississippi Development Authority
- Executive Director of the Mississippi Tourism Association
- Chairmen of the House and Senate Tourism Committees
- Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission
- Director of the Two Mississippi Museums
The Committee is to make a written recommendation for the various genres of official songs for the State of Mississippi to be presented to the Legislature not later than December 31, 2022. The members of the Committee will not receive compensation but may receive reimbursement for mileage and actual expenses.
If it is agreed to by Governor Tate Reeves, the legislation would go into law July 1, 2022.
The current state song, “Go, Mississippi,” has come under fire in recent months as it is a relic of the Civil Rights era with questionable origins, to hear some tell it. It was written by William Houston Davis and was adopted as the state song of Mississippi in 1962. Davis was born in Oklahoma in 1914 and moved to Mississippi in 1942. He was a teacher, drummer, arranger and composer. He was recognized in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in 1938 for having held a drum roll for 6 hours, 30 minutes, and 20 seconds. Later in his life, he served as Justice of the Peace in Hinds County and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Jackson. Davis died in 1987.
Here is “Go, Mississippi” as performed by Rick Pickren.
If the legislation passed Thursday is signed by Governor Reeves, “One Mississippi” written by Azar will be the lone state song until others are adopted.
Azar is a country music singer, songwriter, and producer from Greenville. His hit single “I Don’t Have To Be Me (‘Til Monday)” received three BMI Million-Air awards for over 3 million in air plays and is one of the top five most played songs of the past decade on country radio. He and his wife started the Steve Azar St. Cecilia Foundation in 2006 to raise funds for charitable organizations, particularly in the Delta region that aid sick, disadvantaged and abused children.
Azar is currently also the host of SuperTalk Radio’s “In a Mississippi Minute” where he is billed as the Music and Culture Ambassador of Mississippi.