As I was driving through the Iowa countryside one day, soon after moving from a big city in the east, I was suddenly aware of how beautiful and rich the rural landscape was.
The line came into my head, “This land is like gold—Iowa gold!”
I pulled off the side of the road to catch that line—I’d finally learned that driving and writing at the same time isn’t such a good thing to do—and a song flowed out all at once. It talked about the beauty of the wide-open spaces, the rich fields with their orderly rows of green and gold crops, and the importance of those crops that would help feed people in all parts of the globe.
Then I saw the landscape photography of Iowa artist Ken West. He had been commissioned by the Iowa Department of Transportation to photograph the Scenic Byways of the state. His special photography techniques gave a depth and intensity to the pictures that seemed to bring the riches of the Iowa countryside to life—they showed just what I was trying to say in the song.
After working together to combine the song, “Iowa Gold,” with Ken’s scenic photographs, we began to share the music video with friends all over the country to show them what we thought about Iowa. Soon we were getting comments from people like, “I never knew that Iowa was so beautiful! Now I want to come and see for myself!” And, “Really? Iowa is more than Interstate 80?”
So, just before the premier performance of the song, “Iowa Gold” by the Heartland Youth Choir at the State Fair, we were honored to present the project to Governor Branstad as a gift to the people of Iowa. We invited him to use it however he wished, and he suggested that the Iowa Tourism Office might use it to show people out of state—and the people of Iowa as well—just what riches Iowa has to offer.
We hope you enjoy, and begin to treasure, our “Iowa Gold”!
Jane Roman Pitt and Ken West
(For more information about Jane and Ken’s work, please visit iowagoldsong.com/bios)