Friday, July 11, 2008

Rene Marie & the (Black) National Anthem

Updated, 7/12/08

My initial reaction--which hasn't changed, much--was that this singer was wrong for doing what she did, but that the song, and the idea behind it, is beautiful. She was hired to sing a particular song and, while I agree with artistic expression, and really dig the version she offered, this wasn't the proper venue for it.

Given Rene Marie's penchant for blending such songs in past (see/hear below), the city probably should've taken the extra step to be sure she wasn't going to do so in this situation. It's not as though this information wasn't available...

Still, while I agree that she shouldn't've done it the way she did, I'm glad I heard her sing this (& hope I can find an mp3 of it to add to the iPod), and I will be buying some of her music.

UPDATE: 7/12/08: I found a place to hear/download not only this piece, but the whole three part composition--"Voice of My Beautiful Country" that the "Star-Spangled Banner/Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" piece is a part of... Go here to hear it, and (while it lasts, anyway) to Rene Marie's site to download it.

'Black National Anthem' brings City Council president hate mail :
Local News : The Rocky Mountain News

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

The mayor also said that Marie told him 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."

Marie sang the first verse of James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," also known as the "Black National Anthem," but adapted those lyrics to the tune of the "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Marie said she had no regrets. She deliberately didn't tell anybody about her song choice "because I don't think it is necessary for an artist to ask permission to express themselves artistically," she said.

"I would not change a thing," Marie said.

"You have to risk things. You have to. Otherwise, you might of well live your life by a script."

Rene Marie breaks out :
Music : The Rocky Mountain News

Marie calls herself a "GRITS" ("a Girl Raised in the South") but no one below the Mason-Dixon Line, or anywhere else, knows what to think the first time he hears the most daring medley in her repertoire.

When she first sang it in Mississippi, every jaw in the place dropped. When she called the tune, using its short name, in early rehearsal at the recording studio, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, who came up with New Orleans-born trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, dropped his sticks and said, "I'm not playing that."

Not playing what?

Marie, who relishes the drama of the unexpected, had thought to pair the traditional white anthem Dixie with the heartbreaking meditation on lynching Strange Fruit. She brought off the collision of opposites as an ironic comment on the way the world still works.

In Mississippi, black and white audience members approached her afterward with tears in their eyes and tragic stories to tell. The same thing happened everywhere else, too. Born in controversy, Dixie/Strange Fruit became the emotional centerpiece of Marie's much- praised CD Vertigo.

Anyone shopping for symbols can find one right there, illustrating the purposes of Marie's unblinking, semiautobiographical work.

"I want to make you laugh and cry," she says. "I want you to squirm uncomfortably in your chair, think of a loved one, get angry, hang your head in shame and raise your hand in protest. . . . I want you to take that leap, make that change, turn that corner."

Hear: "Dixie/Strange Fruit" here

More info:

Another perspective on the controversy: Rene Marie’s patriotic lesson - Colorado Independent

rene marie ~ Q & A

The history behind the 'Black National Anthem' - Cleveland Lifestyles – Living, Food, Health & Fitness News from The Plain Dealer


ryn4hnnty said...

‘Nigger’ national anthem. Rene Marie should be gangbanged. That’s what nigger bitches like her are good for. Her mouth needs two dicks to shut it up! We should make husband and sons watch helplessly while she’s gangbanged till she’s bleeding cum and blood.

repsac3 said...

Thank you, ryn, for continuing to serve as the bad example to the rest of humanity that you were obviously born to be.

May you evermore reap that which you sow...

rockync said...

Oops! I think I opened the wrong door; seems I'm in the Troll Zone!

While I understand the sentiment of your sensibilities; that she should not have done this song in this venue because in polite, civil society we are taught to mind our manners - I think she did a very brave thing and she did it well. There was no disrespect to anyone in the room, no rage or inappropriate language; just an artist expressing another view of our society and reminding us ever still to NEVER FORGET.
Because, as we all know, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Good post

repsac3 said...

Yeah, I debated with myself about whether or not to leave ol' ryn's nasty little message, but I figured it was worth it to do so, if only to graphically show that racism (& ignorant-ass stupidity) ain't dead.

(I mean, I knew this kinda thing was out there, but I never thought I'd ever have someone so hateful "speak" to me, even if it is just over the internet...)

As far as Rene, I agree it was brave & beautiful... but she wasn't being paid to be brave & beautiful, she was being paid to sing a particular song...

If I'm a housepainter, there is no real virtue in my recreating Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" on someone's dining room wall if they're paying me for 2 coats of eggshell white.

While singing professionally is an art, one must remember that for good or ill, it's also a business, and one must take the wishes of one's customer into account.

Still, I really dig the series of songs, and last time I checked, the suite was still available for free download at her site, if you're into that sorta thing... (There is that end of the issue, too... Had she been a good girl & simply done her job, it's possible that far fewer people would've ever heard her loverly music --- and I might never've spoken to an out-n-out racist fool... Perhaps it was all a part of God's plan, after all... 8>)

rockync said...

Thanks for the link to her website. She is a really incredible singer.
She says that she was NOT paid to sing but accepted an invitation to do so.
Personally, I think her version would be more appropriate as the national anthem in modern America.

Nerd Score (Do nerds score?)