The Tennessee House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass legislation to make Dolly Parton’s version of “Amazing Grace” the state’s official hymn.
The bill, which local media reports passed the state chamber in 91-1 vote this past week, would amend a portion of the Tennessee Code regarding state symbols to make the song as recorded by Parton the state’s official hymn.
The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Mike Sparks (R) and state Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D), would take effect immediately upon becoming law. The bill now awaits consideration in the state Senate.
In the bill’s text, lawmakers pointed to the historical significance of the song, which John Newton wrote in the 1760s, as well as the former English slave ship captain turned abolitionist’s past.
“Mr. Newton’s conversion from a merchant and slaver to a man of faith led him to speak out against slavery, and although many of England’s large port cities greatly benefited from the slave trade, Mr. Newton and other social critics began to speak out against the practice,” the bill states.
The bill noted that the song has been recorded by “various artists with strong connections to Tennessee,” including Parton, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Little Richard and Garth Brooks.
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