R&B Singer Changes Canadian Anthem Lyrics during NBA All-Star Game to Protest Indigenous Treatment
Canadian R&B singer Jully Black changed the lyrics to the country’s national anthem during Sunday night’s NBA All-Star game in an act of protest aimed at highlighting Indigenous history.
“O Canada! Our home on native land,” Black opened before a packed audience at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The actual song lyrics read, “Our home and native land.”
Miss @JullyBlack your rendition of the Canadian Anthem is a moment I will never forget. So much heart, luv ya and so so proud #Nba pic.twitter.com/rMQHPWh3M8
— Sangita Patel (@sangita_patel) February 20, 2023
Black’s rendition of the Canadian anthem drew applause from left-leaning outlets such as the Toronto Star and the government-sponsored outlet CBC.
Asked about preparing for her performance afterward by Kayla Grey, a sports anchor, Black acknowledged that she had reached out to “some Indigenous friends” and asked them how they felt about singing the anthem.
“We have been singing this anthem since Kindergarten and now in the last three years, especially with Indigenous rights, what’s going on in our country, and the history, the learning–I, too, am learning,” Black said.
“I really dissected the lyrics, to really sing it with intention.”
"I really dissected the lyrics, to really sing it with intention."@JullyBlack did her research, reaching out to Indigenous community members, before performing the Canadian anthem. pic.twitter.com/qJezyvdTbG
— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) February 20, 2023
Since “O Canada” was first adopted as the country’s national anthem in 1980, there have been several attempts to revise it.
In 2018, the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP), Mauril Bélanger, helped pass a bill that made the Canadian national anthem gender-neutral by replacing the refrain “True patriot love, in all thy sons command,” with “all of us command.” Despite initial pushback from conservative legislators, the gender-neutral phrasing sticking was adopted.
A decade earlier, pressure had grown to nix religious passages of O Canada of God. However, the wording remains in the current English, French, and bilingual versions of the anthem today.
Black has collaborated with artists such as Nas and Destiny’s child, with several of her albums being certified gold and platinum.