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Dolly Parton's rendition of 'Amazing Grace' put forward as new US state anthem

by Will Maule

Lawmakers in the US state of Tennessee have proposed that Dolly Parton's version of 'Amazing Grace' as the official state hymn. 

In February, Tennessee State Rep. Mike Sparks and Sen. Raumesh Akbari introduced a new piece of legislation calling for Tennessee to "recognize songs of historic significance that have influenced the state". 

Parton, who is a committed Christian, was born in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, in 1946.

The original version of 'Amazing Grace' was written by John Newton, a former slave ship captain who subsequently became an Anglican vicar and a leading figure in the abolitionist movement. 

"John Newton struggled against the temptation of profits earned by merchants and slavers and uncertainty as to his religious belief during the first two decades of his life,” the bill reads.

“Mr. Newton's life, rife with ‘dangers, toils and snares,’ frequently made him feel as though he had been miraculously spared, despite his struggles. … [H]e experienced a spiritual conversion after his ship was caught in a severe storm in 1748; he began reading the Bible and other religious literature during the remainder of his return journey to England.”

The bill goes on to detail how Newton came to write 'Amazing Grace' while serving at a church in Olney, noting that it had become one of the "most celebrated songs in modern history".

Parton has spoken openly about her faith in the past. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the singer said: "I think God is in this, I really do. I think he's trying to hold us up to the light so that we can see ourselves and see each other through the eyes of love. And I hope we learn that lesson." 

Parton recently turned down the offer of having a statue of herself erected on Nashville’s Capitol Hill. 

"Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time," she said. 

Some 51 years after her first nomination, Parton has been given the nod for the best contemporary Christian music performance/song, for her song "There Was Jesus" with Christian singer Zach Williams. 

Parton took home the same award last year for her guest appearance on “God Only Knows" by Christian duo for KING & COUNTRY.

“It’s always special. You always love to be acknowledged," Parton said of her 50th nomination, before adding: “Like I’ve always said, ‘I don’t work for awards and rewards.'"

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