Seventy-three years ago today, Irving Berlin’s patriotic song “God Bless America” was premiered by singer Kate Smith on her CBS radio show in recognition of what was then called Armistice Day. November 11th is now known as Veterans Day, but the power and popularity of Berlin’s song endures. Would you believe that the song was originally intended to close a musical comedy? Learn more about the song’s history, listen to a clip of Kate Smith’s performance, and see Berlin’s handwritten lyric sheet for “God Bless America” in the Patriotic Melodies special presentation on the Performing Arts Encyclopedia. The Performing Arts Encyclopedia also features the first edition printers’ proofs for the sheet music, highlighted today as our Sheet Music of the Week.
The Patriotic Melodies special presentation also explores the history of other American patriotic songs appropriate to read about and listen to on Veterans Day, as blogger Pat Padua pointed out in last year’s 2010 Veterans Day post.