An American Anthem

On September 11, 2002, I participated in a commemoration of 9/11 at my undergraduate alma mater, Alverno College. I brought a piece to sing at the ceremony that I had heard a few years earlier as the title track on an album by baritone Nathan Gunn. It was also sung by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves at the September 14, 2001 memorial held at National Cathedral (for whom it was written by Gene Scheer in 1998 for an event at the Smithsonian Institute).

Alverno didn’t like it. They thought it was “too patriotic” and wanted me to sing “Let there be peace on earth” instead.

I told them that I felt very strongly that this song was the appropriate piece for the event and that if they really didn’t want it, I would withdraw and send one of my high school students instead because pretty much anyone can sing “Let there be peace on earth.”

Yeah, I felt strongly about it. And I got to sing it. 😀

The lyrics of this song speak to me. They speak to me about patriotism from both the perspective of those who wave flags, who fight on battlefields, who protest, who sign petitions, and who vote.

All we’ve been given by those who came before
The dream of a nation where freedom would endure
The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day
What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?

CHORUS: Let them say of me I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings I received
Let me know in my heart when my days are through
America, America, I gave my best to you

Each generation from the plains to distant shore
with the gifts they were given were determined to leave more
Valiant battles foughts together – acts of conscience fought alone
These are the seeds from which America has grown. CHORUS

For those who think they have nothing to share
Who fear in their hearts there is no hero there
Know each quiet act of dignity is that which fortifies
The soul of a nation that never dies. CHORUS

(It’s also a heckuva competition winner, for those who are looking for that kind of rep.)

On this 4th of July, I think it’s just the right song for us to hear. Here’s the recording that I first heard (pre-9/11). I hope you like it!

 

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

What do you think?