You’ve probably heard a choral group from West Virginia sing “My Home Among The Hills,” like this version from West Virginia Wesleyan:

And it’s probably made you cry. But do you know the song’s history?

The song was written as part of a play to celebrate the state’s 100th birthday in 1963.

E.W. “Bill” James, a Clarksburg native who also served as the town’s mayor from 1957 to 1961, penned the song. James was active in the arts; he was chairman of Clarksburg-Harrison Arts Council and a member of the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission.

James also made another but unrelated important contribution to the state. He was one of the vocal proponents to move West Virginia cities away from a mayoral government to city manager governments.

He’d eventually be named a trustee at Wesleyan and awarded a lifetime achievement award from the West Virginia Choral Arts Foundation. He died in 2000 at the age of 84.

James’ song lives on, however, even though it’s not officially a state song.

West Virginia has four “official” state songs: “This is My West Virginia,” “The West Virginia Hills,” “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home,” and “Take Me Home Country Roads.”

Country Roads was the most recent addition, getting the official designation from the state legislature in 2014.

Bills to make “My Home Among The Hills” an official state song in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but kept dying in the legislature.

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