The St. Croix Source writes about the new song—“Valiant Virgin Isles”—written by Gylchris Sprauve for the U.S. Virgin Islands’s Centennial Transfer Day Song.
For multi-faceted local musician Gylchris Sprauve, creating a song that commemorated this year’s Centennial Transfer Day while still honoring the complex nature of the territory’s move from Danish to U.S. ownership was a “mixed bag of emotion.”
“The Centennial in general is a loaded topic for a lot of people, so what I sought to do, as we try to come to terms with what took place during that time and the aftermath and how we move on from there, is look at this year’s Transfer Day as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Virgin Islanders independent of who laid claim to the Virgin Islands,” Sprauve said during a recent interview with the Source.
Sprauve’s “Valiant Virgin Isles” has, for all intents and purposes, been adopted as this year’s Centennial song, and Sprauve said he came up with the content – which celebrates each of the three U.S. Virgin Islands and those historical figures who contributed to its evolution – after doing his own research on the history of Transfer Day and the impact it has had on the territory. [. . .]
The song was first performed at the swearing in ceremonies for the 32nd Legislature and Sprauve said that since then, he has received continued feedback from residents who’ve said how much they identify with the lyrics.
“This is the time to look at our real needs, and the Centennial offers us the opportunity to shine the light on the Virgin Islands, not on Denmark and not on the United States,” Sprauve said. “And the feedback so far has all been so overwhelmingly positive. People have told me that they were moved to tears because they could identify with the story on a deeper level, so the mission, in this case, was accomplished.”
Working to find a balance between the history and emotion, Sprauve said he concentrated on the unique aspects of all three islands, including the makeup of the society a century ago and what each was primarily used for. The first section, for example speaks about the geographic beauty and “unique placement” of the islands, Sprauve said, and how the experiences of the citizens on each were all different. [. . .]
“It was more of a musical history of the Virgin Islands for the past 100 years, where we were able to talk more about us and point out a few things about the transfer,” Sprauve said. “The new piece, ‘Fanfare,’ I wrote in honor of the residents of the Danish West Indies that were transferred over to the United States. Not enough has been done to honor their legacy, what they were actually able to ‘enjoy’ in the territory after the transfer and what their accomplishments were.” [. . .]
[Detail of a painting by Frederik von Scholten of the Høgensborg Plantation in St. Croix, June 1838; from https://rudbib.dk/ting/object/870970-basis%3A52476291.]