A song celebrating the pride of the Black Country has been declared as the area’s official anthem as the 100 day countdown to the national day in the region’s honour begins.
With national Black Country Day coming up on July 14, community groups and individuals are continuing to work with Dudley Council, to ensure it is marked with a festival of activities.
And now with 100 days to go before the big day, Black Country band, The Empty Can, are looking to break into the charts with their charity song ‘I Vow to Thee Black Country’.
The song, a Black Country version of the patriotic classic, I Vow to Thee My Country, goes on pre-order sale during May ahead of a May 27 release date, after being acclaimed as the Black Country anthem by locals on popular facebook page The only way is Dudley.
And all money raised through sales of the single, which can be purchased for just 99p, will go to Compton Hospice. The charity has been chosen in dedication to Steve Evans, a former Wolverhampton City Council worker, magician, comedian and keen fisherman, who died in January aged just 52, following a two-year battle with stomach cancer.
James Stevens, aged 36, lead signer in the three-piece folk band, said:
“Within hours of this going on YouTube last year it crashed the views counter and we think it reached around 250,000 views in total before we took it off. We now want to re-launch it as a single to mark Black Country Day with all proceeds going to Compton Hospice in memory of Steve Evans. If people in the area get behind it we genuinely believe we could get the Black Country in the charts.”
Steve Edwards, a factory worker from Brierley Hill, who has more than 17,000 likes on his The only way is Dudley facebook page, has created a video of iconic old images of the region to go with the song.
“We posted the song on the site a few months ago and the response was phenomenal. People want an anthem to go with the flag and the national day that we now have on July 14 and this song is perfect. I would urge people to support the song and the Black Country by buying the single and helping to put us on the map.”
And the community efforts have again been applauded by Dudley Council leaders, who kicked off 2014 in style by announcing the Black Country flag would fly from Dudley Town Hall to kick-start the celebrations ahead of the festival in July.
Councillor Pete Lowe, deputy leader of the council, said:
“The community response to the Black Country Day activities has been huge and the idea of a Black Country anthem is something we fully support. We will certainly be supporting I Vow to Thee Black Country to help it hit the charts and help put the whole region on the map.”
Venues and organisations across Dudley borough and the whole Black Country, including music venues, pubs and charities have already expressed a desire to be part of the Black Country festival. Meanwhile the Black Country Living Museum along with council museums such as the Red House Glass Cone, Broadfield House and Dudley Museum and Art Gallery are also set to stage exhibitions celebrating the region.
Professional musician and youth worker James is joined in The Empty Can by NHS nurse Rachel Slater, 36, who is a nurse from Gornal, and 40-year-old lead guitarist Steven Henley who works for a local family business.
The original song, I Vow to Thee My Country, dates back to 1921 when a poem by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice was set to music by Gustav Holst.
People will be able to help get the Black Country song into the charts and support the charity when the song is made available for pre-order during May online at itunes, amazon, spotify and other major online retailers.
In the mean time people can email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list to receive email notification when the song is available.
Photo and interview opportunity: Noon on Friday April 4 - The Empty Can will be joined by Steve Edwards from theonlywayisdudley and Councillor Pete Lowe, deputy leader of Dudley Council at Stone Street Square in Dudley town centre.