Spanish 'Star-Spangled Banner' draws protest
Apr. 28, 2006
In his press release, Alexander said the
Star-Spangled Banner has never before been rendered in another language. But
the U.S. Bureau of Education
commissioned a Spanish-language version
of The Star Spangled Banner. The State Departments website also features
of the anthem in Spanish. It appears xenophobia isn't part of the American
MIAMI - British music producer Adam Kidron says he just wanted to honor the
millions of immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S. when he came up with
the idea of a Spanish-language version of the national anthem.
The initial version of "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem" comes out Friday and
features artists such as Wyclef Jean, hip-hop star Pitbull and Puerto Rican
singers Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon.
Some Internet bloggers and others are infuriated by the thought of "The
Star-Spangled Banner" sung in a language other than English, and the version of
the song has already been the target of a fierce backlash. "Would the French
accept people singing the La Marseillaise in English as a sign of French
patriotism? Of course not," said Mark Krikorian, head of the Washington-based
Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter immigration
"Nuestro Himno" uses lyrics based closely on the English-language original, said
Kidron, who heads the record label Urban Box Office.
Pro-immigration protests are planned around the country for Monday, and the
record label is urging Hispanic radio stations nationwide to play the cut at
7 p.m. EDT Friday in a sign of solidarity.
A remix to be released in June will contain several lines in English that
condemn U.S. immigration laws. Among them: "These kids have no parents, cause
all of these mean laws ... let's not start a war with all these hard workers,
they can't help where they were born."
Bryanna Bevens of Hanford, Calif., who writes for the immigration-focused Web
magazine Vdare.com, said the remix particularly upset her.
"It's very whiny. If you want to say all those things, by all means, put them on
your poster board, but don't put them on the national anthem," she said.
Kidron, a U.S. resident for 16 years, maintains the changes are fitting.
After all, he notes, American immigrants borrowed the melody of the "Star
Spangled Banner" from an English drinking song.
"There's no attempt to usurp anything. The intent is to communicate," Kidron
said. "I wanted to show my thanks to these people who buy my records and listen
to the music we release and do the jobs I don't want to do."
Kidron said the song also will be featured on the album "Somos Americanos,"
which will sell for $10, with $1 going to the National Capital Immigration
Coalition, a Washington group.
James Gardner, an associate director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of
American History, said Americans have long enjoyed different interpretations of
the Star Spangled Banner, including country or gospel arrangements.
"There are a number of renditions that people aren't happy with, but that's part
of it - that it means enough for people to try to sing," he said.
Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Perez, said this country was built by
immigrants, and "the meaning of the American dream is in that record:
struggle, freedom, opportunity, everything they are trying to shut down on us."
On the Net:
Song history by National Museum of American History: