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September 12, 2008

Song celebrates NC 4-H centennial

Note: To read the complete song lyrics, click on "Continue reading..."

“We are 4-H, a whole new generation
We are 4-H, we lift our standards high,
Pledging our heads,
Pledging our hearts,
Pledging our hands, united and strong
We are 4-H, come hear tomorrow’s song.”

As North Carolina 4-H prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2009, youth and adults alike will tap their toes and hum the snappy tune to a song written especially for the occasion by John Hood, Mecklenburg County 4-H alumnus and winner of the 2008 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award.

The song, unveiled in April at the 4-H Gala, was the brainchild of Hood and Mark Dearmon of N.C. State’s Communication Services, who have worked together in performing arts for many years. Dearmon was asked to develop “a big number” for the 4-H Gala. With expressive arts as the theme for this year’s gala, Dearmon felt that a song celebrating the centennial of North Carolina 4-H would be the perfect solution.

Hood wrote the anthem, “We are 4-H (Tomorrow’s Song),” which was scored by his younger brother Robert Hood. With the help of 4-H professionals across the state, Dearmon organized the 31 singers who came to Raleigh in April to rehearse and choose soloists. After several hours of rehearsal, the singers recorded the anthem. Gala guests received DVD recordings of the song.

The singers learned stage blocking for “We are 4-H” on the day they performed it at the gala. The song debuted as the gala’s closing number, with both youth and adult singers from more than 20 counties. The number was a big hit, and will certainly be rolled out again in the coming years.

Writing the centennial song for North Carolina 4-H was an interesting challenge, says Hood, adding, “How do you write an anthem about 4-H – there’s so much to say?”

The symbols, pledges and learn-by-doing philosophy of 4-H don’t really lend themselves well to lyrics, he said. So Hood focused on concepts that evoke images: thought, study and knowledge for the “head,” one of the four “Hs,” and loyalty and emotions for the “heart.”

Dearmon, who has worked in Communication Services since 1976, first met John Hood and his twin brother, David, in 1980 when he saw them perform a tap dance number as youth in a 4-H district talent show. Their mother, June Hood, was a 4-H agent in Caldwell County, so of course the brothers spent much of their youth in 4-H activities.

John and David Hood participated as youth in the 4-H Performing Arts Troupe, a program that Dearmon conducted. At the gala in April, the two brothers took a step back in time, performing a tap dance number they had performed together as 4-H’ers.

John Hood later became music director for 4-H Performing Arts Troupe while he was a college student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Seventeen years ago, he joined Dearmon to develop the Teen Arts Program, a Raleigh-area summer musical theater program where teens perform an original musical after two and a half weeks of intensive rehearsals. Hood has written more than 100 songs for the TAP musicals.

Some members of the choral group that performed at the gala will have the opportunity to perform the song again as the finale of the talent show for the National Association of Cooperative Extension Agricultural Agents to be held in Greensboro this summer and as part of the State 4-H Congress Talent Show. -N. Hampton

Song Lyrics: We Are 4-H (Tomorrow’s Song)
by John Hood

It starts with a thought,
A dream of what you can do,
Breaking through all doubt and fear
A clearer path to view.

Then deep down inside,
You feel a passion to grow,
And you know the place to start,
A heart to set aglow.

To be loyal and true, to do what’s right
When the easy way is wrong,
And the world says “go along.”

And in service to lead, in deed and word,
In a cause that others shelf,
When it’s larger than yourself.

We are 4-H
A whole new generation
We are 4-H
We lift our standards high,
Pledging our heads,
Pledging our hearts,
Pledging our hands, united and strong
We are 4-H, come hear tomorrow’s song.

From fields, lush and green,
To campus, city and stage,
Every age and culture reach,
To teach and to engage.

With knowledge and skill,
With confidence and with pride
Such a wide horizon scan,
And span each deep divide.

Healthy body and mind, combined in one,
Firm foundation to achieve,
In our future to believe.

Better living for all, a call to sound,
Build communities to share,
And in freedom, just to dare.

We are 4-H
A whole new generation
We are 4-H
We lift our standards high,
Pledging our heads,
Pledging our hearts,
Pledging our hands, united and strong
We are 4-H, come hear tomorrow’s song.

We are 4-H
A whole new generation
We are 4-H
We lift our standards high,
Pledging our heads,
Pledging our hearts,
Pledging our hands, united and strong
We are 4-H, come hear tomorrow’s song.

We are 4-H, come hear and sing along,
We are 4-H, we are tomorrow’s song.

Posted by Natalie at September 12, 2008 08:56 AM