Battle of the State Songs

I found this interesting article in the June 4, 1926 issue of The Pilot, then published in Vass, N.C. When I saw the headline about the state song, I assumed it would be about William Gaston’s well-known “The Old North State,” which we wrote about a few years ago in This Month in North Carolina History. It turns out that there may have been some competition.

S. M. Kendrick’s appeal to state pride was played before Governor Angus McLean in an effort to have the song chosen to be played at the Chorus of the States, which was to be part of the national Sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in July 1926. Kendrick’s piece is praiseworthy enough, but, in my opinion, lacks the poetry and charm of Gaston’s song, with its memorable line “the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her” and the reference to North Carolina’s “daughters” as “the Queen of the Forest resembling.”

I haven’t yet looked around for any more about this, deciding to appeal instead to NC Miscellany readers first. What do you think — was Kendrick’s song indeed sung at the Chorus of the States? And was this challenge what led the legislature to decide to adopt “The Old North State” as the official state song less than a year later?

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