The bill was introduced earlier this month. State Rep. Mike Sparks and Sen. Raumesh Akbari proposed the bill because they believe that the song has historical significance for their state.
Argument for the bill talks at length about songwriter John Newton’s faith and his eventual denunciation of slavery.
Newton worked on a slave trade ship in the 1700s, but through a series of events realized the evil of the trade and became an ordained minister and worked to dismantle slavery in England.
“During his first year serving in Olney (England), he wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace,” which became one of the most celebrated songs in modern history,” the bill says.
The song has crossed ethnicities over its history, as captured by over 3,000 recordings of the song in the Library of Congress, some of them dating back as early as the 1930s.
The state acknowledges that many others with Tennessee connections have sung the song — such as Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Aretha Franklin — but they are choosing Dolly Parton’s specific rendition. The bill is unclear on why Parton’s version was chosen.
The state House has yet to vote on the bill.