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The official state song of Utah is “Utah, This is the Place,” which was written by Sam and Gary Francis in 1996 for Utah’s centennial celebration. The state Legislature voted to make this the new state song in 2003, replacing “Utah, We Love Thee,” which then became the official state hymn. The lyrics of the state song of Utah celebrate the state’s natural beauty as well as the pioneering spirit of its people. The lyrics “This is the Place” are a reference to the words of Brigham Young when he first traveled to Utah with his Mormon followers.
Utah changed its state song to “Utah, This is the Place,” as a result of a petition by a group of school children near Salt Lake City. They told their local representative that the current state song, “Utah, We Love Thee,” was not enjoyable to sing and that the new song was more popular with young people. The students also performed the proposed new song for the state Legislature before they voted. In order for it to become official, the composers had to agree to release the copyright, because it was too new to have become public domain. Had they maintained the copyright, they would have been entitled to royalties every time the song was played.
The state of Utah is one of the country’s richest in natural beauty and wildlife and is home to numerous state and national parks that protect and preserve these unique resources. The state song of Utah celebrates this beauty with lyrics like “Utah! With its mountains and valleys. Utah! With its canyons and streams. You can go anywhere. But there's none that compare.” There are numerous outdoor activities for sports enthusiasts, such as hiking, camping, and sightseeing. The state also boasts a variety of winter sports, with some of the country’s most popular ski resorts. These areas near Salt Lake City, the state capital, were highlighted when Utah hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002.
Also a tribute to the state’s Mormon heritage, the lyrics of the state song of Utah summarize the founding of the state by Brigham Young and his Mormon settlers after a long and difficult journey in a wagon train across the Rocky Mountains: “It was Brigham Young who led the pioneers across the plains. They suffered with the trials they had to face, With faith they kept on going till they reached the Great Salt Lake, Here they heard the words ... 'THIS IS THE PLACE!'" Today, the place where Brigham Young told his followers they had found their home is a state monument called “This is the Place” Monument.