'Black National Anthem' Stuns Audience
Denver mayor irked by singer's anthem switch
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2008 4:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – A black jazz singer got plenty of glares before the mayor's address in Denver this week when instead of singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as expected, she sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing"—known as the "black national anthem." Many in the audience appeared shocked and the mayor later said he regretted the "distraction."

"Art is supposed to make you think. I wanted to express how I felt, being a black woman living in this country," said singer Rene Marie. "An artist does not ask permission to express themselves artistically. You just do it and then you deal with it."