Monday, July 27, 2015

Kate Smith

Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other  guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended  to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two. 

Before you watch it, the story behind the song:
The time was 1940.  America was in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid  we'd have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for Americans.   This was just before TV, radio shows were HUGE, and families sat around their  radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no  entertainer was bigger than Kate Smith.
Kate was also large; plus size, as we now say, and the  popular phrase still used today is in deference to her,  "It ain't over till the fat lady sings  ". Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV,  but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her  time.
Kate was also patriotic.  It hurt her to see Americans  so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring  . She had hope for  America , and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer  them up, so she went to song-writer, Irving Berlin  (who also wrote "White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make  Americans feel good  about their country.  When she described what she  was looking for, he had just the song for her.
He went to his files  and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before -  back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio  orchestra.  She and Irving Berlin were not  sure how the song would be received, but both agreed they would not take  profits. Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America . Over the years, the  Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.
This video starts out  with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with  the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first  time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the  background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, "  You're  In The Army Now  ."  At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young  actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it's Ronald Reagan .
To this day, God Bless  America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country.  Back in  1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to  raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt she realized how successful  the results would be for Americans during those years of hardship and worry.....  and for many generations to follow.  Now that you know the story, I hope  you'll enjoy it and treasure it even more. 

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