The “Star-Spangled Banner” being sung before a sporting event has long been a tradition that dates back to Game 1 of the 1918 World Series when the song was played during the seventh inning stretch. The anthem being sung during games eventually spread to other sports and has now become a tradition like no other.
Singers are often invited to sporting events to perform the national anthem. However, following San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the anthem, where he took a knee while it was being played, many artists are now questioning it.
R&B singer Anthony Hamilton has performed the national anthem before, but he won’t be doing it again for a while. Like many black Americans today, Hamilton feels the anthem is not a good representation of all Americans.
“I’m gonna take a little time away from the anthem until it starts feeling like it’s for me,” Hamilton told the Associated Press. “We need a new song, one that really speaks for all of us, or bring some new life to the one that we have.”
Like Hamilton, superstar singer Alicia Keys is questioning the anthem as well and said she understands why Kaepernick is protesting. “I understand. I understand,” Keys said.
According to Keys, she learned new information about the anthem following the quarterback’s protest. Many people, including Keys, were shocked to learn the “Star-Spangled Banner” features more verses and often excluded lines that read, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”
“To actually read the facts, you know, I can understand it. It’s time for a lot of things to change. We know what this country was built off of and based off of, and it's time for that to evolve. It’s time for the story to evolve,” said Keys.
Shortly after Kaepernick’s first protest, John Legend tweeted his support and also revealed he wasn’t a fan of the anthem, calling it “weak” and suggesting that “America the Beautiful” be sung instead.”
But while some singers, such as JoJo, will continue to sing the song out of respect for the veterans in her family, other singers such as Leah Tysse are putting their own spin on it. On Monday, during a preseason Sacramento Kings game, Tysse kneeled while performing the song.
Tysse, who is white, said kneeling was the “most patriotic thing” she could do. “I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Let’s be honest. Until we can recognize that white privilege exists we cannot have a dialogue about race.”