Anthem Rendition Has Listeners, Bloggers Talking

Reaction to Denver jazz artist Rene Marie's rendition of the national anthem is spilling over to the Tell Me More blog. Hear perspectives from the program's audience on patriotism, as well as bullying and the decline of black community radio.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy is here with us as always. Hey, Lee. What do you have?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. A couple of things. So, we began the week talking about this woman.

Ms. RENE MARIE (Jazz Artist): (Singing) Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us.

HILL: That's jazz singer Rene Marie singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing". Known as the Black National Anthem to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner. Now, she switched things up a bit at a Denver City event where she was invited to just sing, "The National Anthem". Now, Michel I got to tell you, this is generating a lot of buzz on our blog. There's a lot of emotions. A lot of mixed feelings, even within the same person. This message from Janice sums up what folks are saying.

JANICE (Caller): I don't consider Rene Marie to be a bad person or citizen, not do I doubt her patriotism. But I don't think she has very good manners. The folks that contracted her to sing at this event did sell in good faith and she betrayed their trust. She chose the wrong venue for her statements.

MARTIN: Thank you, Janice. Later in the week, we also checked in with our Mocha Moms for a conversation about bullying. Why it happens and ways that parents and love ones can intervene. At the end of the segment as we often do, we ask listeners to share their thoughts on the subject. We received this from Ray.

RAY (Caller): Bullying is inherent in our entire society. The cops bully, the coaches bully. We have to deal with that. The root causes of bullying before you're going to make a dent's worth of difference. And also a more balanced approach would be to maybe have some male voices on said programs.

MARTIN: Thanks, Ray. Good suggestion. Lee, what else?

HILL: Well, Michel, we had a conversation with U-Savior Washington and Bob Law about their new documentary, "Disappearing Voices". Now, the two filmmakers are raising awareness about their fear that traditional black community radio is fading off the airwaves. But, Jeremy, he thinks it's part of a larger trend.

JEREMY (Caller): Have they ever heard of something called the Internet? The mainstream media is dying in general for blacks and whites and everyone else. But the Web and the blogosphere is alive and thriving. The barriers of entry are next to nothing and there are plenty of voices, African-American and otherwise. Not only bringing up important issues but pushing them into the spotlight.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Jeremy and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And don't forget, on Monday, Tell Me More begins Cheap Skate Week. A series of stories about how we're all finding ways to cope in these tough economic times. So, we'd like you to tell us more about how you're cutting back to make ends meet. Clipping coupons, riding your bike to work. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again is 202-842-3522. Or go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out. And Barbershop is next on Tell Me More.

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