A proposal to designate an operatic song by a homegrown talent show winner as Missouri’s official anthem drew mixed reviews Thursday, with an Independence lawmaker questioning whether anyone with a “normal voice” could sing it and another suggesting it needed some fiddle music.
Opera singer Neal E. Boyd, who won an “America’s Got Talent” contest in 2008, wants lawmakers to make his “Missouri Anthem” the official state anthem. The three-minute song references Missouri’s “courage and strength,” its rivers, eagles, dogwoods and pine trees, and proclaims that “Missouri’s the heart of a grateful nation.”
When Boyd played a recording of it Thursday for a House committee, some lawmakers praised the anthem while others seemed less than impressed by its orchestral and operatic qualities.
“I love the lyrics, but … I’m thinking in Missouri we need a fiddle in the band,” said Republican Rep. Warren Love of Osceola, referencing a country music song.
“I’m just thinking the average Missourian like me is not going to get up and jump up and down at that song, I’m sorry,” Love told Boyd, who grew up in Sikeston. “It’s a little cultured above what a lot of us think and act.”
After Boyd left the room, committee members ultimately decided not to vote on the bill, meaning it is unlikely to pass before the session ends May 17.
Missouri already has an official song, the “Missouri Waltz,” which received its designation in 1949. Recent governors have danced to it at their inaugural balls.
But Boyd said he could envision the “Missouri Anthem” sung by choirs, at sporting events, during TV tourism commercials and when the governor enters a room at official events.
Rep. Ira Anders, an Independence Democrat, said the song seemed difficult for “somebody with a normal voice” to sing.
But the Republican sponsor, Rep. Holly Rehder of Sikeston, said: “I think it shows we are very cultured in Missouri, and we have a very wide array of music.”