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Oklahoma Symbols of the Arts

Oklahoma has 17 symbols of the arts, including eight songs, probably more than any other Western state.

Folk Song Oklahoma Hills 2001
Land Run Song The Oklahoma Run 2009
Country Western Song Faded Love 1988
Gospel Song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 2011
Inspirational Song I Can Only Imagine 2018
Waltz Oklahoma Wind 1982
Children’s Song Oklahoma, My Native Land 1996
Rock Song (former) Do You Realize? 2009
Musical Instrument fiddle 1984
Percussive Musical Instrument drum 1993
Western Band The Sounds of the Southwest 1997
Theatre Lynn Riggs Players of Oklahoma, Inc. 1971
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1988
Poem Howdy Folks 1973
Cartoon Character Gusty 2005
Caricature Artist Teresa Farrington 2005
Wood Art Capital of Oklahoma Capital Oklahoma Forest Heritage Center 2010
Oklahoma Symbols of the Arts

Of particular interest to me are Oklahoma’s percussive musical instrument (drum), cartoon charter (Gusty), and caricature artist (Teresa Farrington.) Oklahoma is the only state besides Hawaii with an official drum and the only state besides Texas with an official caricature artist.

The official gospel song is a familiar favorite. The official folk song is also very well known (in Oklahoma, at least).

However, the boss of the ranch is the official anthem, “Oklahoma.” With music by Oscar Hammerstein and lyrics by Richard Rogers, the spirited song is forever linked with a musical of the same name. Adopted as a symbol of Oklahoma in 1953, the song exuberantly sings the glories of the prairie, where June bugs zoom and hawks make lazy circles in the sky.

Like the Theme from Rocky, it’s a song that’s dangerous to play on commercial airliners because passengers have a hard time resisting the urge to jump up and dance.

Last but not least is Oklahoma’s official poem, “Howdy Folks.” The poem is an homage to the most famous Oklahoman of all time, Will Rogers.

Oklahoma State People

Rogers was a globe-trotting cowboy—the famous ropin’ fool who became a globe-trotting talkin’ fool, a humorist, and political pundit reminiscent of Mark Twain. His sometimes scathing remarks were softened by his humor and wit.

The Oklahoman with the talking rope could be pretty political, too. He agreed with the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh that the U.S. should stay out of World War II. Rogers was also an admirer of Italy’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. However, Rogers wasn’t as fond of bankers, a class of people he openly despised.

Yet Rogers had a talent for insulting people in a manner that might win their friendship. His most famous words were “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

Will Rogers reached the end of the trail in 1935, when he died in a plane crash near Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the U.S.

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