|Click here to watch a clip of National Anthem performance (:35)|
Set on the front lawn of the Capitol Building, the kick-off performance featured the Marine Corps Band and a 200-voice choir backing the project's official musical ambassadors, BMI songwriter/artists the Oak Ridge Boys. Speakers included MENC Executive Director John Mahlmann, who addressed a vast audience of Congressional members, music educators and music lovers.
|Pictured on Capitol Hill are Oak Ridge Boys band members Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall and Duane "Ace" Allen, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), BMI's Robbin Ahrold, Oak Ridge Boys member William Lee Golden, and band manager Jim Halsey|
In addition to the opening ceremony on Capitol Hill, more than six million children, teachers and music supporters participated in the "World's Largest Concert," which aired across the US and abroad on PBS stations and the Armed Forces Network.
The campaign launch comes on the heels of a recent Harris Poll that shows two out of three Americans don't know the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and that many are unaware of the historical events that inspired the penning of the song. This startling statistic prompted MENC, the world's largest arts education association, to spearhead the project and shine the spotlight on the importance of school music programs, where most Americans learn patriotic songs.
|MENC's John Mahlmann addresses the audience|
The multi-faceted project will include education initiatives in schools across the country, special performances and alliances with professional sporting events, and an extensive mobile marketing tour stopping in cities nationwide. The National Anthem Project: Restoring America's Voice is set to culminate in 2007 with a record-setting performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Washington, DC.
The song of our nation was written by Washington attorney Francis Scott Key at a dramatic moment during the War of 1812. On the night of September 13, 1814, Key watched as our country was attacked by the British navy at Fort McHenry. After watching the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air throughout the night, dawn broke. Key was expecting to find Baltimore firmly under British control, but was stunned to see a battered but still flying American flag waving in the sunrise. So inspired was Key that he wrote the poem that was to become our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." Set to a tune composed by John Stafford Smith, the song became America's national anthem in 1931.