Patriotic songs: This is My Country

This is My Country is a popular patriotic song for both the native born and the immigrant.

The song was composed in 1940 by the songwriting duo Don Raye {born Don Raye Wilhoite, Jr.} and Al Jacobs.

Don Raye Wilhoite, Jr. was born on March 16, 1909 in Washington, D.C.  He changed his name to Don Raye when he went into vaudeville.  Raye was a talented dancer and began to compose songs for his routines.  This eventually led to him composing for a living.  He teamed up with numerous musicians and songwriters such as Saul Chaplin and Sammy Cahn. Raye, along with Hughie Prince, won an Oscar nomination in 1941 for the Andrews Sisters hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”.  Shortly thereafter, Raye, enlisted in the Army in 1941 at the height of his career.

Al Jacobs was born on January 22, 1903 in San Francisco, California.  By the age of 13, he was composing songs and supporting himself by giving vocal, guitar and dance lessons.  Jacobs would later go on to write the scores for the films Crocodile Dundee and Karate Kid.

Al Jacobs’ daughter, Joann, told the Library of Congress that the song was written in 1940.  “Dad ran into Don Raye who said he was in the process of writing a patriotic song and would he like to write the music. So the words came first for sure, and then my dad wrote the music. I believe the song was written in New York . . .”   Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians recorded the song on January 7, 1942 and their version made the song popular.

Other artists such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and Pattie Labelle have recorded the song.

The co-authors both passed away within a month of one another.  Ray died on January 29, 1985 in Encino, California.  Al Jacobs died on February 13, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland.