Tennessee State Songs and Anthems
"Pride of Tennessee"
“The Pride of Tennessee,” written by Fred Congdon, T. Mike Vaughn, and Carol Elliot, is unique among the state songs in that it provides a history lesson about Tennessee. It comments on the eleven famous people featured in Tennessee’s official Bicentennial painting. The painting, created in 1990 by Tennessee artist-in-residence Michael Sloan, depicts Cordell Hull, James K. Polk, Anne Dallas Dudley, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Davy Crockett, Sequoyah, W.C. Handy, Alvin York, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and John Sevier. One of the song’s writers, Fred Congdon, tells how the song was written:
“I was chairman of the Pride of Tennessee Commission and we worked during the state’s Bicentennial to get original size prints of the portrait in prominent places, mostly courthouses in Tennessee. My friend Mike Vaughn, who had the idea for the portrait . . . , commissioned our friend Michael Sloan to paint the final portrait. Mr. Vaughn also came up with the original idea for the state song. Being a songwriter, I took on the task of turning his ideas into a song about the important people in the portrait. After working on it for a while, I was still not completely satisfied with the lyrics. I was introduced to Ms. Carol Elliott who is a prolific songwriter. We spent a morning working on the song and went into a studio where I recorded the demo for the song with accompaniment by famous Nashville guitarist Steve Gibson. The collaboration of myself, Mike Vaughn, and Carol Elliott made the song. I had a group of musicians that I was playing small shows with and we recorded our Pride of Tennessee album. The title song was debuted at the world-famous Station Inn where we were playing on Monday nights at the time. State Representative John Mark Windle liked the song and said that he thought it should be recognized as a state song because of the rich history. It was adopted as a state song in 1996.”
Listen to Fred Congdon and his band, Twisted Lester play “The Pride of Tennessee”
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