March 6, 2021

Dolly Parton’s “Amazing Grace” Rendition Could Become Tennessee’s Official Hymn

A new bill proposed by Tennessee lawmakers is advocating to make Dolly Parton's rendition of "Amazing Grace" the state's official hymn. The bill was introduced earlier this month. State Rep. Mike Sparks and Sen. Raumesh Akbari proposed the bill because they believe that the song has historical significance for their state.

According to Bill HB0938Download PDF, Parton's take on the religious anthem penned by abolitionist John Henry Newman is a "song of historical significance that [has] influenced the state of Tennessee," having been recorded by the likes of "artists with strong connections to Tennessee, including Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Fairfield Four, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, the Oak Ridge Boys, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks."

"Amazing Grace" has been a constant part of Parton's songbook and was even recontextualized as the track "Shine On," for her 1998 LP Hungry Again - which she also performed at Tammy Wynette's funeral the same year at the Ryman Auditorium.

Furthermore, the bill honoring the song "commemorates the life of John Newman and solidifying the [anti-slave trading] cause [for which] he fought.