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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Aretha sings ‘British National Anthem’ for Obama Inaugural
By Susan Meredith Beyer
01/22/09


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Braving the cold on January 20, at what some were calling Barak Obama’s “coronation,” jazz legend Aretha Franklin donned an enviable gray chapeau to wail the sentiments of nearly two million who gathered on the capital mall for the historic swearing in ceremony of America’s 44th president. Better known as My Country ‘Tis of Thee, the song is actually the Americanized version of the British National Anthem, God Save the King. American composer, Samuel Francis Smith, wrote the new American lyrics in 1831, which were later quoted by Martin Luther King in his “I have a dream” speech.
The melody for Aretha’s choice of songs actually has a long history of popularity and use by early composers including Muzio Clementi in his “Symphony Number 3 in B Major,” Joseph Haydn's Opus 9, Bach's sixth keyboard concerto, Beethoven's Battle Symphony, and several other national anthems.
My Country ‘Tis of Thee—which was no longer considered the anthem of the defeated British—was sung at the inauguration of America’s first president George Washington, and served as the main patriotic song in America until late 1831 when The Star Spangled Banner became America’s official National Anthem.


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This article has been read 216 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 01/29/09
Interesting information that most Americans probably don't know. Thanks for sharing this.
Jan Ackerson 01/30/09
Thanks for this tiny chunk of interesting historical trivia!

I don't think we'll ever forget that hat...
Karlene Jacobsen 02/01/09
Brief, yet informative. Thanks for the trivia. My son learned the history of that song in his 3rd grade history a couple weeks ago. Very interesting.
Gregory Kane02/03/09
Hey, am I the only person in the world to have missed the inauguration? Sorry but I've been on the road and there aren't too many televisions round here!
On an entirely serious note, I would have loved for you to expand your story and fill in some of the gaps. It's clearly written as a commentary for those who watched the performance. But what about those of us who missed it? What else did Aretha wear besides the hat? How well did she sing? What was the response? Is there is a link between the song and your comment about Obama's 'coronation'?
Maybe some food for thought there for future writing
c clemons02/04/09
Not sure which topic is your topic. Aretha's song choice, Areatha's hat, or history of the song. In all, how does it relate to the topic? There's been so much talk about her hat which is sooo funny. That style of hat has been worn in African-American churches for years. Just another obvious difference between ethnic groups.