Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr.
 
"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
James A. Bland was a minstrel musician who composed "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," which was named as the official state song of Virginia in 1940, and is probably the only state song written by an African-American.  He wrote more than 700 songs, including "In the Evening by the Moonlight" and "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers," which was featured on one of television's "The Walton's" episodes.   His interest in music began when he was about 12; began composing songs at 15; added an extra string to the traditional four string banjo, which then became known as a "Bland Banjo."  Bland graduated from Howard University in 1873. In 1881, he was the highest ever paid minstrel man, performing before President Grover Cleveland and former General Robert E. Lee.  In Europe, he played before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He stayed in Europe appearing as a singer/banjo player without 'blackface.'  He was the black writer who broke down the barriers to white music publishers' offices, and was known as the "Prince of Negro Songwriters."  His best-known song is "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" which was the official state song of Virginia from 1940 to 1997.  It was, unfortunately, retired and designated "state song emeritus" in the latter year, because of controversy over its racial nature.  Many Blacks today are surprised that it was an educated Black man, who's father was also a college graduate (Oberlin College) who actually wrote the song.

Carry me back to old Virginny.

There's where the cotton and corn and taters grow.

There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.

There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.

There's where I labored so hard for old Massa,

Day after day in the field of yellow corn;

No place on earth do I love more sincerely

Than old Virginny, the state where I was born.

[CHORUS]

Carry me back to old Virginny.

There's where the cotton and the corn and taters grow;

There's where the birds warble sweet in the spring-time.

There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go.

Carry me back to old Virginny,

There let me live till I wither and decay.

Long by the old Dismal Swamp have I wandered,

There's where this old darkey's life will pass away.

Massa and Missis have long since gone before me,

Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore.

There we'll be happy and free from all sorrow,

There's where we'll meet and we'll never part no more.

[CHORUS]

Here, the song is used as background music for a family picture album of memories.