Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Surprise! Singer substitutes "black national anthem" for Star-Spangled Banner before State of the City speech

Just weird. The Post:

As Denver dignitaries gathered today for Mayor John Hickenlooper's State of the City address, City Council President Michael Hancock introduced singer Rene Marie to perform the national anthem.

But that's not what she did.

Instead, Marie performed the song "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," which also is known as the "black national anthem."

When she finished, the proceedings moved forward, and the "Star-Spangled Banner" was never performed.

Councilman Charlie Brown took to local talk radio this afternoon to blast the lack of the nation's anthem at the proceedings.

"There's no replacement for the national anthem," Brown said. "They should have sung it."

Mayor Hickenlooper did the full Chickenpooper:
Hickenlooper said in a statement: "We were as surprised as anyone that jazz singer René Marie did not sing our national anthem at today's State of the City ceremony, as our staff had requested. As I listened to her sing, I assumed she would eventually move into the traditional Star Spangled Banner. I called her personally this afternoon to understand what happened. She explained her song was an artistic expression of her love for her country. She said she meant no disrespect of any kind and that her song was in no way intended to be a political statement. She apologized for any problems she may have created.
Naturally the Post has a poll: "What do you think of the song sung at Mayor Hick's State of the City speech." Right now it's nine percent "loved it" versus 67 percent "hated it," with a scattering in between.

Check out the pic they run with the story, by the way. See the white guy in the background with his hand over his heart? That's kind of funny.

Update: The News has a somewhat different take: "'Black national anthem brings City Council president hate mail":

Denver's City Council president is getting hammered with hate-filled messages in response to Tuesday's surprise performance of the "Black National Anthem" by a jazz singer during a city event.

The News' story also has a slightly fuller quote from the irrepressible Charlie Brown:

There is no substitute for the national anthem. Period," Councilman Charlie Brown said.

"This is the State of the City address. It's not an NAACP convention," he said, referring to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The News' poll is even more lopsided than the Post's, with 88 percent against the substitution.

Update: Slapstick Politics has lots more.

Update II: Guv not happy:

Gov. Bill Ritter today labeled as "inappropriate" a jazz singer's decision to replace the words to the national anthem with the lyrics of another song at Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's state of the city speech.

Speaking during his monthly appearance on the Mike Rosen Show on KOA 850, Ritter weighed into the controversy over the performance by singer Rene Marie.

Marie on Tuesday performed the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which also is known as the "black national anthem." She sang the words to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"If you invite someone to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at an event, you invite them to do just that," Ritter said.

"The problem here is she was invited to do one thing, and she chose to do another thing," Ritter added. "And that's unfortunate for a variety of reasons. It's a fair interpretation to say it's disrespectful."

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