The Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College's New Arboretum Records label has released a new arrangement of "America the Beautiful" that recasts the song in Memphis and the Mississippi Delta and features Bobby Rush, Eddie Cotton, A-list Memphis musicians, and Rhodes College students. A music video to accompany the track has been released on the Rhodes College YouTube channel for the July Fourth weekend.
Rhodes College has been partnering with Bobby Rush for over a decade, and named him the first Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts in 2014. Despite suffering from COVID-19 in 2020, he and Rhodes continued their collaboration through the pandemic. Rush visited Curb Institute classes via Zoom in the Fall of 2020 and during the past Spring semester he visited campus again to work with students. It culminated in a recording session at Royal Studios with Boo Mitchell last March where they recorded "America the Beautiful."
In recognition of his 10-year commitment to the college and mentorship of over 100 students, Rhodes awarded him with the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree at the 2021 Commencement.
“Offering students firsthand experience in the music industry with a legend like Bobby Rush, in addition to the numerous community partners and professionals who contributed to the project, is what the Curb Institute is all about. In many ways it is a uniquely Rhodes and uniquely Memphis opportunity, and we are grateful” says director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music Dr. John Bass.
Describing his hope for the song, Bobby Rush says, “let’s celebrate America the Beautiful in every voice!”