Temple Terrace music teacher Stephen Ulrey is pitching a version of “I Want to Wake Up in the Morning Where the Orange Blossoms Grow” to replace the current state song, also known as “Swanee River.”
Critics have said Foster’s minstrel show tune is racist. They also say Foster never visited Florida and misspelled Suwannee in the song’s most memorable line, “Way down upon the Swanee River.”
Supporters Of “Old Folks at Home” argue the controversial lyrics should be—and often have been—replaced. The song was adopted by the state legislature in 1935 and has survived two previous attempts to replace it.
Ulrey thinks “Swanee River” can be replaced with a more upbeat historical tune. Variations of the “Orange Blossom” song have been sung at schools and social club gatherings for decades.
One person who doesn’t think the “Orange Blossom” song is appropriate is Billye-Mullins Smith, one of the two original composers. Smith says orange blossoms are quickly vanishing.