Report: Flyers Remove Connection to Kate Smith Over ‘Offensive Lyrics’
It may be the end of a long-time Flyers tradition.
You can’t think of the 1974 Stanley Cup championship, the first in Flyers history, without thinking about Kate Smith and “God Bless America.” Smith performed the song live prior to the deciding Game 6, and the Flyers went on to defeat the Boston Bruins, 1-0.
Since it was first used in 1969, the song has served as a good luck charm for the Flyers. They have used the recording of Smith singing the song, Smith performed it live multiple times at the Spectrum and following her death in 1986, clips of the performance from the 1974 Stanley Cup Final have been used regularly, even being matched up with current anthem singer Lauren Hart to form a duet. In addition, a statue of Smith is along the walkway to Xfinity Live.
As of Friday morning, the Flyers are no longer using “God Bless America” and the statue has been covered. This comes on the heels of reports that Smith has a history of “potential racism” in lyrics to recorded songs.
“We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization,” said a statement from the Flyers. “As we continue to look into this serious matter, we are removing Kate Smith’s recording of ‘God Bless America’ from our library and covering up the statue that stands outside of our arena.”
This decision comes in the wake of another decision in professional sports. The Yankees had used a recording of “God Bless America” for 18 years, played during the seventh inning stretch, but stopped that tradition this season. On Thursday, a report from the New York Daily News indicated that the reasoning was also because of the offensive nature of the lyrics.
The story from the New York Daily News cites a few of the examples that are being investigated.
Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
Smith first performed “God Bless America” live at the Spectrum at the Flyers home opener in the 1973-74 season. In the times the Flyers have used “God Bless America,” whether live by Smith, a recording or in duets with Lauren Hart, the Flyers have a 101-31-5 record. The Flyers did not use the recording this past season.