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May 19, 1999
S. Printed 5/19/99--H.
Read the first time March 10, 1999.
TO AMEND ARTICLE 9, CHAPTER 1, TITLE 1 OF THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO STATE EMBLEMS, PLEDGES TO THE STATE, AND OFFICIAL OBSERVANCES, BY ADDING SECTION 1-1-687 SO AS TO DESIGNATE THE "SPIRITUAL" AS THE OFFICIAL MUSIC OF THE STATE.
Amend Title To Conform
Whereas, the spiritual is a song originating in the slave era that deals primarily with a religious or sacred theme; and
Whereas, it is proper to make the spiritual the official South Carolina music because Charleston was a major port of entry for slaves in North America; and
Whereas, much of this music originated along the coastal regions of South Carolina; and
Whereas, the spiritual was passed down orally for many years and first committed to writing in South Carolina on St. Helena Island by a freed black woman and a white Union Army officer during the Civil War; and
Whereas, the publication of an 1867 book on slave songs was the result of the work done by an educational mission on the Port Royal islands in 1861; and
Whereas, the earliest known spirituals were taken from passages of the Bible; and
Whereas, some well-known examples of spirituals are "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", "Steal Away to Jesus", "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen", "Roll, Jordan, Roll", "Wade in the Water", "Come by Here Lord, Come by Here", "This Little Light of Mine", "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child", "Go Down, Moses", "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", and "Follow the Drinking Gourd"; and
Whereas, Booker T. Washington probably best described spirituals as "... the spontaneous outbursts of intense religious fervor... having their origin chiefly in the camp meetings, the revivals and in other religious gatherings ... the music of these songs goes to the heart because it comes from the heart..."; and
Whereas, those South Carolinians who perform the "Gullah Shout" state that spirituals are key to getting the rhythm for the "Shout"; and
Whereas, in old spirituals style, a leader improvises the text, time, and melody and other singers respond by repeating short phrases, and this traditional West African singing style is referred to as leader-chorus or call-and-response; and
Whereas, the legacy of spirituals is still evident in African-American communities where the "talking back" or call and response heard among churchgoers comes directly from slave songs and spirituals; and
Whereas, for many South Carolina citizens, the spirituals were the first songs they learned; and
Whereas, singing a spiritual is one way of honoring one's past and lineage; and
Whereas, although spirituals are not literature, the Norton Anthology of African American Literature signaled their importance by opening up the anthology with a chapter entitled "The Vernacular Tradition" and spirituals are the first discussed oral tradition of black expression; and
Whereas, the origin and development of the spiritual is deeply rooted in this State; and
Whereas, all South Carolinians, from the Piedmont to the Lowcountry and from the Savannah River to the Pee Dee, love to sing spirituals; and
Whereas, all South Carolinians have a desire to recognize this unique and important part of the history, culture, and heritage that we proudly proclaim is South Carolina. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 1-1-688. The spiritual is the official music of the State."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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