July 02, 2008

"Black National Anthem" Performed At Denver's State Of The City Address Instead Of National Anthem

Welcome Michelle Malkin, Gateway Pundit, Five Feet of Fury, lgf readers--most recent update at top, scroll for video of "anthem" . . .

"No matter what her reasons for taking this action and deliberately withholding her plans from event organizers, she absolutely chose the wrong time and place to do it. She knew what the city's expectations were, and she was dishonest about her intentions. She imposed her personal choices and their consequences on others, depriving our 12,000 city employees and community-at-large of an opportunity to have their collective accomplishments celebrated and leaving many in our community feeling disrespected"--statement from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

**Update 6--Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper responds more forcefully to the "anthem"--singer "dishonest," Denver "disrespected":
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, in a sharply worded rebuke today, said the singer at his State of the City address who replaced the words to the national anthem with another song had deceived city officials.

"We will do whatever it takes to ensure that a situation like this never occurs again, even if I have to sing the national anthem myself," the mayor said in a prepared statement.

The mayor released what he said would be his final statement over the decision by Rene Marie to sing the lyrics to what is known as the "black national anthem" instead of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"We all respect artistic license and support freedom of expression," the mayor said. "But in a tradition-laden civic ceremony that included a law-enforcement color guard presenting our flags and the Pledge of Allegiance, making a personal substitution for the national anthem was not an option. We asked for 'The Star Spangled Banner,' and that's what we expected."
. . .
The national anthem is sung during every State of the City speech by the mayor. Marie was not paid for her performance.

"No matter what her reasons for taking this action and deliberately withholding her plans from event organizers, she absolutely chose the wrong time and place to do it," said the mayor in the statement, which he also intended to read from the steps of the City and County Building. "She knew what the city's expectations were, and she was dishonest about her intentions. She imposed her personal choices and their consequences on others, depriving our 12,000 city employees and community-at-large of an opportunity to have their collective accomplishments celebrated and leaving many in our community feeling disrespected."
**Update 5--Gov. Ritter's response:
"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."

Ritter added that as governor of Colorado, he's observed how people's facial expressions change when the national anthem is sung, and the singing of the song is a tradition that has meaning for many people.

"There is something about that anthem," Ritter said. "It is substantive and symbolic. It is about our country, and it is about a level of patriotism."
**Update 4--Rene Marie: "I pulled a switcheroonie on them"; 850KOA's Mike Rosen hosted a call from Denver City Council president Michael Hancock (an African American) who was not only surprised by the substitution, but rejected it completely, and then Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, who believed it to be inappropriate as a song choice and for the venue--disrespecting Mayor John Hickenlooper and the work of the city.

**Update 3--Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper attempts (audio)--poorly--to explain that Rene Marie's intentions were "not disrespectful"; Post columnist Gloria Neal (an African-American) calls Marie's choice a "moment of artistic flatulence."

**Update 2--video is live (apologies, YouTube was being, well, YouTube) . . .



Not a "political statement":
Jazz singer Rene Marie, who was introduced to sing the "National Anthem," sang what is known as the "Black National Anthem" instead, evoking angry reactions among some of the estimated 700 people who attended the event.

"There is no substitute for the National Anthem. Period," said Councilman Charlie Brown.

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

Hickenlooper and his staff said they expected Marie to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" and that they were surprised when she sang something different.

Hickenlooper said he spoke to Marie after the ceremony and that she apologized profusely.

The mayor said Marie told him that she meant no disrespect.

"She blended the two songs together," Hickenlooper said. "She was trying to make an artistic expression of her love for the country. She did not intend to make a political statement or anything."
This seems to contradict earlier statements that Marie's intent was for the sake of "art" and "to make you think."

**Update--The reason for the anthem switch? "Art":
Once she finished performing, there was a moment of awkward silence and then the crowd gave her mild applause. Marie said she understood why the audience was confused, since the song sounded familiar but the lyrics were different.

"Art is supposed to make you think. I wanted to express how I felt, being a black woman living in this country," Marie told 7NEWS.

The Denver Mayor's Office said it wasn't aware that Marie was planning to sing that version of the song. A spokeswoman told 7NEWS that the office expected her to sing the traditional anthem.

The Broomfield singer said only three people at the State of the City speech knew she would sing the lyrics to the Black National Anthem -- her husband, her mentor and herself. It was not a song requested by the city, but a song she had deliberately chosen to perform.
Here's a profile of Rene Marie from the Rocky Mountain News earlier this year.

Rene Marie sang alternate lyrics to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner." (Denver's Channel 8)

On a tip--developing . . .

Apparently, fried foods aren't the only "non-patriotic" things in Denver under Mayor John Hickenlooper--not with the national anthem replaced by the "black national anthem" during the Mayor's State of the City address (full transcript):
Mayor John Hickenlooper's annual State of the City address may get more attention for what wasn't included than what was.

At the start of the event Tuesday morning, City Council President Michael Hancock introduced singer Rene Marie to perform the national anthem.

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

When she finished, the audience responded with mild applause. The national anthem was never performed.


"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother in 1900.

City Councilman Charlie Brown took to talk radio Tuesday afternoon to criticize the absence of the national anthem at the State of the City proceedings.

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


The Mayor's office did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
"It's the new patriotism."

Here are the words to "Lift E'vry Voice and Sing".

More on the "alternate" anthem:
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.
. . .
Brown said Hancock has told talk-radio stations that he only introduced the singer from prepared remarks handed to him and was unaware that she would not be performing the "Star-Spangled Banner." Hancock did not immediately return a call seeking comment, nor did Hickenlooper or his staff.
From the tipster:
Infuriating. The microphone should have been cut off. At the very least the mayor and council should have expressed chagrin. I, however, would have cut her off. I would be incensed if I were standing with my hand over my heart for the national anthem only to have this insidiously slipped in instead.
Can't say it any better than that.

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