Denver Outraged Because She Sang “The Black National Anthem”


A jazz singer shocked some Denver residents after replacing the words to the national anthem with those of the “Black National Anthem” during the annual State of the City address this week.

Rene Marie was asked to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper delivered the annual address on Tuesday. Instead, she sang the lyrics of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — a hymn commonly referred to as the “Black National Anthem” — to the tune of the national anthem, MyFOXColorado.com reported.

“If anyone has got a right to be angry it’s probably me,” Hickenlooper told the station. “I guess what I feel most is just deeply disappointed.”

The mayor said only Marie, her husband and a musical adviser knew what the local jazz singer had in mind.

“What she said was that she was very sorry, that she meant no disrespect, that she was trying to make a creative expression of her love for the country,” Hickenlooper said.

But the change in lyrics angered many residents, including City Councilman Charlie Brown.

“I was mad,” he told MyFOXColorado.com. “I almost walked off the stage.”

Brown said the matter needs to be addressed. “There is no substitute for the national anthem.”

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  1. We can’t really be upset with the reaction. The fact was that she was asked to sing the National Anthem. There is a time and place for everything and that wasn’t the place to be singing the Black National Anthem over the National Anthem. If there was something that the Mayor did that warranted a protest then e did can be commended but if there is nothing other than her own personal motives then she blasphemed our anthem…both of them.

  2. Ashamed? F*ck an apology. As much as the NA gets butchered – how dare those folks talk of embarrasment and shame.

  3. Why should she offer an apology? When I attended a professional basketball game and we were playing a Canadian team, they sang both the National Anthem and the Canandian Anthem. In the mid 90’s when Nelson Mandela won the Freedom Award on the Fouth of July, we sang the National Anthem and the South African National Anthem. There are hidden seeds of racism when their is outrage over the Negro National Anthem being sung which provided African-Americans hope and strength in the midst of a violent, brutal, and racist history in America. In the midst of bondage and oppression we faced in America, we were still able to “Lift our Voice and Sing.”

  4. I would have loved to see their reactions, which were apparently based on ignorance. But I agree with “the truth”: if she wasn’t going to sing the song she was asked to sing, she shouldn’t have agreed to do it. I’m upset about her putting OUR words to THEIR music. What the Johnson’s think about that?

  5. She was not asked to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”/The Black National Anthem. She was asked to sing the National Anthem and that is what she should have done. The reaction of the audience should have been outraged–there were no “seeds of racism”; she should have sang the song she was asked to sing. She not only disrespected the National Anthem, she disrespected the Black National Anthem. I continue to be amazed at what people call “racism”

  6. I understand what she did but now they will never ask Blacks to sing the national anthem again. Was what she did a step up or down for Blacks?

  7. Who gives a crap about a national anthem? That’s just like saying “You are unpatriotic.” WHO GIVES A CRAP? I will have to say though if they asked you to sing one thing just sing. No doubt I love our National Anthem but here indeed she should have sung what they asked at the time. But they shouldn’t be all mad and crazy, because that comes off as almost being a racist. They better watch what they say and TONE.

    (How can you disrespect a song?? Is a song a person? Does it have feelings? Gimme a break people!)

  8. So what! The national anthem and the black national anthem can’t be co-mingle to be all inclusive. We have other ethinicities in America, but whenever we talk race, it’s always black and white. So why not combined the two. I think that’s nice.

  9. Granted she did not do what was asked, but sometimes it’s tiring to always do what you are told in order for others to be comfortable with who you are.

    I think one of the most wonderful things that was accomplished is this was it pulled the veil back on racism. Many of us like to play pretend in our homes in “their” neighborhoods, while we drive “their” type of cars, and work hard to dress and talk like “them”…

    The fact is there is a different in races, we should embrace OUR culture, and should not have to apologize for being proud. When we stop being ashamed, others can begin to embrace our culture, too.

    I think what she did took courage and was beautiful!

  10. I think she should have sung what she was asked to sing.

    We live in a country where we have and know what our National Anthem is. Shoot…at HU we play the National Anthem, Black National Anthem…I’m so glad I go to Howard U….etc.

    But if I’m receiving my Doctorate and it’s a solemn occassion and I’m expecting the National Anthem/Black National Anthem or anything to be played and somebody starts playin’ Backyard go-go just b/c we’re in DC and that’s the DC theme music…them I’mma be upset!!!! Not b/c I don’t like Go-Go…but because it’s not what I was expecting or what I wanted.

    Point Blank.

  11. She should have sung what was asked. Both the Negro National Anthem and The Star Spangled banner are sacred. I love hearing both, but when the Star Spangled Banner is sung, I know that the last verse of the, “the home of the brave” must have been penned to emphasize the contributions of African Americans to this country’s heritage.

    Also I felt to put the lyrics of one song to the melody of the other dishonored both composers and borders on plaigarism and copyright enfringement.

  12. If you’re going to do something, do it right. As a musician, I would have been very “disturbed” to hear Johnson’s lyrics to John Stafford Smith’s music. I can’t sing along, I don’t know where she’s going! If she wanted to bring surprise attention to the Negro National Anthem, she should have sung it the way it was written and let that be the surprise. Her surprise rendition brought attention to the country that we do have our own anthem, but it was negative publicity. There are non-black (and honestly, some blacks too) people who now think our anthem is just the US anthem with different words. It is so much more than that.

    I don’t think it was appropriate. I love both songs and enjoy hearing both of them. She was asked to sing the U.S. National Anthem so that’s what she should have done. I was at Howard University when Justice Thurgood Marshall died. His casket was rolled down the aisle of the church to Lift Every Voice and Sing. I was the proudest person in Howard Plaza Towers, hearing it on national TV and seeing current and former presidents standing to our song. THAT was appropriate.

    Looking forward to seeing other comments….

  13. Russy’s title sums up what is happening here. The outrage is over the “Negro National Anthem”. If she would have sang, “America the Beautiful” or “God Bless America”, nobody would have uttered a word. And it definitely wouldn’t have been (inter)national news.

    She should not have sung “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing” in that situation. Not even to the theme of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Period. Unequivocally.

    What’s disturbing are the venomous reactions that so many people have expressed. People are livid because “that negress” had the audacity to sing “some nigger song” instead of the national anthem. This being the reason for their outrage, is their rage still justified?

  14. This is like going to Pizza Hut and getting a Burger King menu. I can understand the reaction. Her choice to change music, she was originally asked to sing, has yet to be explained….

    So to co-sign Brown and Be: What did we gain here?

  15. It is what it is, get over it…. let’s focus on the cure for AIDS and Hunger in America.

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