Tuesday, May 22, 2012
On this date in 1955, residents of the northwest were talking about the previous night’s “world premiere” of a new song called “North Dakota.” The premiere played on television and radio across North and South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota.
The song was instigated by US Senator Bill Langer, composed by Leonard Whitcup, with lyrics by Paul Cunningham, who also appeared as a guest for the world premiere event. The two musical collaborators were known other songs, such as “From the Vine Came the Grape,” which was recorded by The Gaylords and the Hilltoppers, and “The Bible on the Table and the Flag upon the Wall,” recorded by Gene Autry. WDAY staff singers performed these two songs for the special program, leading the show host to say, “Gee whiz, as we say out here in North Dakota, they did right well on that, Paul.”
As part of the program, it was announced that all royalties of the song would go to Anne Carlsen’s North Dakota Crippled Children’s School in Jamestown, which was a source of great excitement to all involved.
In the end, the song itself was performed three times on the program; the first was the official record version, the second was performed by WDAY’s singer Patty Clark, and for the third, all of the guests and singers were gathered together to perform. It was a swinging little tune that assured us all, “There’s no state half as great as the state of the prairie rose.”
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
WDAY World Premiere TV show – May 21, 1955