British music producer Adam Kidron says that when he came up with the idea of a Spanish-language version of the U.S. national anthem, he saw it as an ode to the millions of immigrants seeking a better life.
But in the week since Kidron announced the song — which features artists such as Wyclef Jean, hip-hop star Pitbull and Puerto Rican singers Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon — it has been the target of a fierce backlash.
Some Internet bloggers and others are infuriated by the thought of the "Star-Spangled Banner" sung in a language other than English.
"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 controls.
The initial version of "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem," comes out Friday and 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."