OKLAHOMA CITY - Vince Gill and Jimmy Webb have written a song to celebrate Oklahoma and its people as the state nears its centennial.
Gill wrote the music and Webb wrote the lyrics for "Oklahoma Rising," which is intended to complement the state's official song, "Oklahoma!" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
The song remembers Oklahoma's early days and explores the promise of the 21st century. It also touches on difficult periods, from the Dust Bowl to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
"In the days and weeks following the bombing, Oklahomans came through as generous, brave, noble people," Webb said from his New York home. "The whole country had to bow in deference to that. In our heartland we showed that we have a great state and a great reservoir of courage. It made me proud to be an Oklahoman."
"Oklahoma Rising" will debut Sept. 11 at a private event at the Civic Center Music Hall, said Centennial Projects and Events Chairman Lee Allan Smith. The 100th anniversary of the state's admission to the union is Nov. 16, 2007.
"We both love our state, and our hope with this anthem was to epitomize and crystallize the character of Oklahomans for the world to see," Webb said. "I really tried to connect with what it means to be an Oklahoman."
Webb and Gill have known each other for years, but this marks their first professional collaboration.
Gill is a Norman native who grew up in Oklahoma City. The 49-year-old country singer's hits include "When I Call Your Name," "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away" and "I Still Believe in You."
Webb, 60, a native of Elk City who grew up in Laverne, has hits including "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," recorded by Glen Campbell, "Up, Up and Away" (The Fifth Dimension) and "MacArthur Park" (Richard Harris).
On the Net:
Vince Gill: www.vincegill.com/main/index.php
Jimmy Webb Music Co.: www.jimmywebb.com/