Mark Holmberg speaks to 67-year-old songbird who wrote Virginia a new song
The 67-year-old globe-trotting Richmonder has been a teacher, occupational therapist, a realtor and a missionary.
She’s a two-time cancer survivor and she has multiple sclerosis that keeps her in a wheelchair at The Virginia Home beside Byrd Park.
Now she’s hoping to become the author of Virginia’s official state song.
“I used to paint,” she said, pointing to some of her artwork on her walls, “and when I couldn’t use my hands like I could, I started spending more time on my songs. I got serious with it.”
She’s written a hundred or so songs.
The previous state song, “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny,” written from the viewpoint of a slave, was retired in 1997. It’s been a bit of a nightmare replacing it. As House Bill 883 points out, “the Commonwealth requires an official song that can be sun on all occasions with pride and affection.”
In 1998, the state held a contest to find the new state song. Among the many entries was a song by Burgin, which she would refine for the next eight years until it became “At Home In Virginia.”
House Bill 883, sponsored by Del. Betsy Carr (Richmond/Chesterfield), proposes that “At Home In Virginia” become Virginia’s official song.
“I want my song to encourage people,” Burgin said. “And let people know they are important.”