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Post new topic Story behind God Bless America
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Author Topic:  Story behind God Bless America
Harold Dye

Cullman, Alabama, USA
Post Posted 26 Dec 2016 11:13 am     Reply with quote

I received this in an email from a friend. After reading and viewing this I wanted to share it with others. To me this is very touching.

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.

Here are the facts.... The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of "GOD BLESS AMERICA". But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song.

The time was 1940. America was still 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 most Americans.

This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era 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 the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote "White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said 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 - way 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 by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America . 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 whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry..... And for many generations of Americans to follow.

Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you'll enjoy it.
Many people don't know there's a lead in to the song since it usually starts with "God Bless America ....." So here's the entire song as originally sung..... ENJOY! Please click the below:
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Bud Angelotti

Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 4 Jan 2017 3:11 pm     Reply with quote

Here you go Harold -
Just 'cause I look stupid, don't mean I'm not.
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Jerry Hayes

Virginia Beach, Va.
Post Posted 5 Jan 2017 1:22 pm     Reply with quote

An interesting story.... I was watching an episode of Country's Family Reunion of RFD-TV in which Bobby Bare sang a tune he'd written called "God Bless America Again" which was a pretty big hit for him. He said that sometime after it's release he received a letter from Irving Berlin's people telling him more or less to "cease and desist" using that song title...

Bobby's sort of a rogue so he wrote back to them and said wait'll you hear my next recording, it's called "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas AGAIN". He said he never heard another word from them...JH in Va.
Don't matter who's in Austin (or anywhere else) Ralph Mooney is still the king!!!
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John Swain

Post Posted 5 Jan 2017 4:45 pm     Reply with quote

As I've been told ,my father was working with Kate Smith at the time. After being lead alto in Ted Powell and Paul Whiteman's Big Bands he began arranging and did the arrangement for this. He went on to be head arranger for CBS TV and wrote the scores for Arthur Godfrey and the Ed Sullivan Show. He passed away nine years ago today!
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Craig Stock

Westfield, NJ USA
Post Posted 6 Jan 2017 1:46 pm     Reply with quote


Very cool fact, I remember you telling me about your dad, guess you're just a chip off the old block.

I saw in another post that you used to play the Blue Ribbon in Hillside, NJ, I live pretty close by to where it was along time ago and was too young to ever go there.

Do you have any pictures of the years you played there? There also was a western wear store near there. Just curious.

Hope all is well in S.C.
Regards, Craig
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Harry Williams

Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 11:42 am     Reply with quote

God bless America, and everyone else too
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John Swain

Post Posted 10 Jan 2017 12:42 pm     Reply with quote

Happy New Year Craig, I'm sorry I don't have any pictures from those days, but I remember the western wear store!
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