Flyers cutting ties to late singer Kate Smith over offensive lyrics

Mike DeNardo
April 19, 2019 - 9:59 am
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Flyers fans have become accustomed to hearing the voice of Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" at big events and games for the Flyers. But that's not going to happen anymore.

The Flyers are cutting ties to the singer over what they call offensive song lyrics from the past.

Outside the Wells Fargo Center, the statue of Smith is already covered with black sheets. 

Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" became a good luck charm for the Flyers. Last year, the team played it a couple of times during their brief run in the playoffs. 

But Smith, it turns out, also recorded World War II-era songs, including one with the lyrics, "Someone had to pick the cotton; that's why darkies were born."

Now, a statement from the Flyers reads: "We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization. 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." 

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Some passersby in Center City agreed with the move, saying if it offends some people, the Flyers are doing the right thing.

"You've got to be conscious of everybody's feelings now," said Michael English, "that's how things are."

There is no word yet on what will happen to the statue in the future. The move comes one day after the New York Yankees stopped playing Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" during the seventh inning because of what they called "potential racism." 

The New York Daily News also pointed out that Paul Robeson, a civil rights activist, also recorded that same song, which was meant to be satircial.

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KYW Newsradio's John McDevitt contributed to this report.