Reviews > Culture

Patriotic Music

Culture

Issue: "Mourning has broken," Sept. 29, 2001
1
SING AMERICA
Various Artists 1999
STYLE
Rock, pop, folk, classical, gospel, jazz, "patriotic."

BEST SELECTIONS
"America the Beautiful/ We Shall Overcome" (O'Landa Draper's Associates), "Sing, America" (Denyce Graves), "God Bless America" (LeAnn Rimes).

WORLDVIEW
A fundraiser "to protect and preserve America's threatened cultural treasures"), this album sets out to celebrate America's "diversity" but ends up celebrating the patriotic melting pot.

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OVERALL QUALITY
Great stylistic variety, with a B or B+ average overall. Although Whitney Houston's "Star Spangled Banner" would have been preferable, Cher's isn't bad.

2
A Time for Healing
Various Artists 1995
STYLE
Classical, orchestral, choral.

BEST SELECTIONS
"God Bless America," "Sheep May Safely Graze," "Amazing Grace."

WORLDVIEW
(From the liner notes of Music from the Oklahoma City Memorial Service: A Time for Healing by Oklahoma's First Lady Cathy Keating) "On Sunday, April 23, 1995, five days after the bombing [of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building], we gathered for prayer.... Just as the music comforted us that afternoon ... , I hope that this recording will remind you of loved ones lost but not forgotten and the hope of a brighter tomorrow for us all."

OVERALL QUALITY
A.

3
God Bless America
Kate Smith 1991
STYLE
Big-band-era pop, show tunes.

BEST SELECTIONS
"God Bless America," "But Not for Me," "They Can't Take That Away from Me."

WORLDVIEW
"Falling in love" and "romance" are synonyms for the joy that comes from the total giving of one's self to another (or to one's country).

OVERALL QUALITY
There are two kinds of Kate Smith anthologies-those that contain "God Bless America" (her only well-known patriotic recording) and those that don't; this 37-minute, 13-track collection-Best of Kate Smith: God Bless America!51;provides an inexpensive, A-level introduction to the former.

4
America!
A Celebration of Freedom
STYLE
Classical, Romantic, and 20th-century patriotic music performed by the United States Air Force Band & the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants (1999).

BEST SELECTIONS
"Stars and Stripes Forever," "Star-Spangled Banner," "This Is My Country," "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," "America the Beautiful," "American Salute," "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

WORLDVIEW
What is it with the way wars not only galvanize a nation but inspire a nation's composers?

OVERALL QUALITY
A.

5
Let Us Pray
Various Artists 1997
STYLE
Contemporary Christian Music from Let Us Pray: the National Day of Prayer Album.

BEST SELECTIONS
"Heal Our Land" (Michael Card), "I Will Listen" (Twila Paris), "My Jesus, I Love Thee" (Avalon)

WORLDVIEW
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

OVERALL QUALITY
A-. With the possible exception of Carman's over-the-top dramatization "America Again," these middle-of-the-road performances sound an appropriate note of national contrition.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Nothing crumbles faster during times of national crises than the non-Constitutional notion of a "wall of separation between church and state." How else to explain our nation's willingness when on the brink of war to embrace music with overtly Christian themes? God-free patriotism is difficult even during peacetime. The 1999 compilation Sing America (Warner Bros.), intended to inspire nothing more religious than a desire to preserve our "historic sites, monuments, and art," nevertheless finds itself speaking the language of faith. Amid secular, and at times borderline, patriotic offerings from Leonard Bernstein ("Fanfare for the Common Man"), Elvis Presley ("If I Can Dream"), Paul Simon ("Graceland"), and Frank Sinatra ("The House I Live In"), the presence of "God Bless America," "Amazing Grace," and "America the Beautiful/We Shall Overcome"-by LeAnn Rimes, Judy Collins, and O'Landa Draper's Associates, respectively-testifies eloquently to a uniquely Christian spark in the American soul. Missing in action: songs extolling Allah, Buddha, or militantly atheistic civil libertarians.

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