The bill will need to pass a Senate vote before making it to Gov. Bill Lee's desk.
Sparks and Akbari's bill champions hymnist John Newton's opposition of slavery and tells of how his best-known composition "(helped) others find a deeper understanding and love through their faith."
"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," reads the bill (as quoted by Nashville's Fox 17).
Parton fits Sparks and Akbari's proposal because she's arguably the best-known and best-loved among living Tennesseans.
If Parton's rendition of "Amazing Grace" becomes Tennessee's 10th official state song, it'll be fourth selection with ties to country music. In 1965, Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart's "Tennessee Waltz" became the fourth state song in 1965, joining Nell Grayson Taylor and Roy Lamont Smith's "My Homeland, Tennessee," Willa Waid Newman's "When It's Iris Time in Tennessee" and Frances Hannah Tranum's "My Tennessee." The latter's the Volunteer State's official public school song.
In 1982, Nashville songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant's bluegrass standard about their home sweet home, "Rocky Top," came to represent more than Vols football. More recently, Ronnie Milsap's "Smoky Mountain Rain," a Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan co-write, became an official state song in 2010.
"The Pride of Tennessee," Vivian Rorie's "Tennessee" and "John R. Bean's "Tennessee" round out the current list of Tennessee state songs.
Another song of note, 1996's "A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796-1996," is everything you'd hope for it to be.
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