Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
Words & Music: James A. Bland
Arr: Merv Rowley 2011
minstrel shows were still a popular form of entertainment
when James A. Bland, a Negro, wrote this song before the age of twenty. His story is
remarkable. He was born in Flushing, NY in 1854, and learned to play the banjo while still a boy.
His parents were persons of some means, and his father
was a college graduate. The family moved to Washington, D.C. while James was still a youngster, and he found work as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Ulysses S. Grant as President.
Bland attended and graduated from Howard University, in the District of Columbia. While there, he had developed a keen interest in the entertainment profession, especially minstrel shows. After
graduation, he had difficulty in finding employment, because the management of minstrel shows was dominated by whites. He therefore formed his own troupe
of Negro minstrels and traveled abroad, primarily in England, where he enjoyed a
successful career. His musical composition, Carry Me Back to Old
Virginny, uncopyrighted, was donated to his profession.
He wrote over 700 folk songs. Other popular songs by Bland
were In the Evening By the Moonlight and
Oh, Dem Golden Slippers. At the height of his career, his troupe gave a command performance before the royal family of England!
James Bland eventually returned to America, where he died in poverty in Philadelphia in 1911.
Old Virginny was adopted as the State Song of Virginia in 1940. Many today think that this music was written by Stephen Foster.
About the Music:
Although composed in a diatonic scale, the music here is
arranged in a 1-3-5 tuning, allowing the use of numerous color chords
we hope you enjoy playing and hearing.
Your 1-3-5 Team
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.pdf
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.tef
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.mid
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