Singer Opts for 'Black National Anthem' Over 'Star-Spangled Banner'

A jazz singer shocked some Denver residents after replacing the words to the national anthem with those of the "Black National Anthem" during the annual State of the City address this week.

Rene Marie was asked to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper delivered the annual address on Tuesday. Instead, she sang the lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" — a hymn commonly referred to as the "Black National Anthem" — to the tune of the national anthem, reported.

"If anyone has got a right to be angry it's probably me," Hickenlooper told the station. "I guess what I feel most is just deeply disappointed."

The mayor said only Marie, her husband and a musical adviser knew what the local jazz singer had in mind.

"What she said was that she was very sorry, that she meant no disrespect, that she was trying to make a creative expression of her love for the country," Hickenlooper said.

But the change in lyrics angered many residents, including City Councilman Charlie Brown.

"I was mad," he told "I almost walked off the stage."

Brown said the matter needs to be addressed. "There is no substitute for the national anthem."

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