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    The Surprising History of “God Bless America”

    Presented by at Colorado College - Packard Hall

    October 10, 2013


    The Surprising History of “God Bless America”

    American Music Scholar Sheryl Kaskowitz discusses her book, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song. The book tells the fascinating story behind America’s other national anthem, beginning with the song’s composition by Irving Berlin in 1918 and first performance by Kate Smith in 1938, revealing an early struggle for control between composer and performer, as well as the hidden economics behind the song’s royalties.

    Kaskowitz shows how the early popularity of “God Bless America” reflected the anxiety of the prewar period and sparked a surprising anti-Semitic and xenophobic backlash. She follows the song’s rightward ideological trajectory from early associations with religious and ethnic tolerance to increasing uses as an anthem for the Christian Right. The book concludes with a portrait of the song’s post 9/11 function within professional baseball, illuminating the power of the song, and of communal singing itself, as a vehicle for both commemoration and coercion.

    Kaskowitz’s recent interview on NPR’s All Things Considered can be heard at

    An excerpt from the book is available at via the Official Website below.

    Colorado College - Packard Hall

    5 W. Cache La Poudre St.
    Colorado Springs, CO 80903

    Full map and directions

    Admission Info:

    Free, no tickets required.

    Phone: 719-389-6607

    Accessibility Information:

    Official Website

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