Monday, September 12, 2011

GOD BLESS AMERICA: When It Was First Sung and Why

Your email is so appreciated!

At least three of the blogs I've written in the last week or so came directly from some of your email.  And, after I write a blog and you call my attention to a current national news article on what I have already written, that is a real thrill.  Thank you!
 A dear class mate of mine from 1948, mails the greatest articles and art to me from time to time.  She just sent me a very timely article on Kate Smith which I'll share with you.
Long before television, "Kate Smith Sings" was a very popular radio show from 1931 til 1947, my birth year until I was 16.  Of Kate's 2,000 recordings, 19 sold more than a million copies.
In 1939, FDR introduced her to King George VI saying, "This is Kate smith.  Miss Smith is America".  She traveled the country intertaining the troops and in WWII she sold more war bonds than anyone else--$600 Million.

The email article:

..."Irving Berlin wrote "God Bless America" in 1917 for use during WWIDoes anyone know why he did not release it then?  No?  Well, I will tell you.  He thought it was "too saccharine", (sentimental) even for the horrific inferno that was WWI.

You will enjoy this and you younger folks will learn some history...

If you will click on it will open up a link to a video showing the very first public singing of "God Bless America". 

But, before you you watch, you should also know the story of the song.  The time was 1940.  (My friend and I were 10).  America was in a terrible economic depression.  Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we'd have to go to war.  It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.

This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE,
(check out all the old radios in the video), and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers--and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.  Kate was also large in size, and the popular phase still used today is in deference to her, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings".

Kate was very patriotic.  It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring.  She had hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans.  She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American songwriter, Irving Berlin and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country.  He gave her the song he had written 22 years before--way back in 1917--but had never used. 

Kate and Berlin both agreed that they would not take any profits from "God Bless America".  They agreed that any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America.  Over the years, The Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song".

Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you will click on the above link and enjoy and treasure the song even more.

(Thanks Dottie)

"God bless America, land that we love"

1 comment:

Cousin Cheryl said...

Great clip! Loved seeing Ronald Reagan near the end. Kate Smith could sing!