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H 3421
Session 113 (1999-2000)

H 3421 General Bill, By Campsen, Pinckney, Clyburn, J. Hines, Moody-Lawrence, 
Davenport, Barfield, Koon, Breeland, J.H. Neal, Inabinett, Altman, Govan, 
Hamilton, Lloyd, Mack, Cotty, M. Hines, Gourdine, Stille, Tripp, Scott, 
Phillips, Riser, Carnell and Harvin

Similar(S 177) A BILL TO AMEND ARTICLE 9, CHAPTER 1, TITLE 1, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 1-1-688 SO AS TO DESIGNATE THE SPIRITUAL AS THE OFFICIAL MUSIC OF THE STATE. 02/02/99 House Introduced and read first time HJ-8 02/02/99 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary HJ-8



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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