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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

God Bless America by Kate Smith


Frank  Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that  when he and a million other people first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.   

Here  are the facts: The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing  the very first public singing of "GOD BLESS AMERICA". But before you watch  it, you should also know the story behind the first public airing of the  song.
The  time was 1940. America was still 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, 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; plus size, as we now say, and the popular phrase still used today is in reference to her: "It ain't over till the fat lady  sings". 

Kate was also 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 song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote "White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make Americans  feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her. He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before–way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America. 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. 

This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the  orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first  time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, "You're In The Army Now." At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it's Ronald  Reagan.
To  this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our  country. Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise  the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how  successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry. . .and for many generations of Americans to follow.

Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you'll enjoy it and treasure it even more.
   
Many people don't know there's a lead-in to the song since it usually starts  with "God Bless America." So here's the entire song as originally sung.


 
NOTE:  Click the above  - then click the picture to get it started.



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