×

‘American Idol’ Alums, Inspired by Colin Kaepernick, Reimagine National Anthem (Watch)

Three “American Idol” alums have recorded a new version of the National Anthem, but not with the familiar lyrics written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. Anthony Fedorov, who competed in the fourth season of the long-running talent show, tells Variety that he was inspired to come up with new verses for “The Star-Spangled Banner” after football quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines for kneeling as the anthem was sung pre-kick-off. The former San Francisco 49er used the gesture to protest racial injustice.

“I started reflecting on this song and did some research and discovered some of the uncomfortable truths about its origins,” says Fedorov. “Because of that, I wanted to imagine an anthem that really does reflect the face of America right now. Diversity is the bedrock of our country. Why not open the conversation and ask if we can revisit the lyrics?”

Fedorov reached out to some of his recording artist friends. “I was ready to do this on my own, but I’m grateful to Tamyra Gray and David Hernandez for doing this with me.” Gray (from season one) and Hernandez (season seven) went into the studio with Fedorov to record the revised version of the anthem, now titled “Bless Our Home.”

“I was immediately on board the moment Anthony explained the concept,” says Hernandez. “As times evolve we need to rethink our verbiage and delivery. I hope it is well-received and that people embrace the lyrics because they are more inclusive than the original. It doesn’t mean you can’t like both versions but we are living in different times now. How we approach things has to change. This country was built on diversity and breaking free from the chains of oppression.”

Fedorov says he would like to encourage people to educate themselves on the origins of the National Anthem. “I recently saw ‘Hamilton’ at the Pantages here in Los Angeles after listening to the music since the cast album was released. To actually experience this in the theater and see these historic figures be portrayed by people of color was incredible to me. In much the same way, I’m hoping to encourage people to really hear these words and ask themselves the hard question — is this an anthem for all of us? Or just some of us? I’m hoping to shift the conversation. At the end of the day, we all have the right to pursue our happiness and leave a legacy for our children. We are a country built by immigrants.”

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Queen and Adam Lambert Live

    How the Queen + Adam Lambert Tour Brought the Opera to Arenas

    Just as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, wowed moviegoers last year, stage design firm Stufish Entertainment Architects has helped Queen + Adam Lambert’s current U.S. tour deliver a screen spectacular of its own. The tour, which plays New Orleans on Aug. 20 and Atlanta on Aug. 22, touched down at [...]

  • Mass Appeal and Universal Launch Hip-Hop

    Nas, Mass Appeal and Universal Music Launch Hip-Hop Label in India, Sign Divine

    Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale. The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and [...]

  • Trey Anastasio of Phish performs at

    Phish Concert Camp Out Canceled Due to Plague-Infected Prairie Dogs

    The plague, or Black Death, decimated the European population in medieval times and has returned to ruin Phish concert-goers’ camping plans. The band announced Tuesday that camping and vending will be canceled for their Labor Day weekend performance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colo. due to concerns of plague-infected colonies of prairie dogs. [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Edge, left, Adam Clayton, and Bono

    New York’s PlayStation Theater to Close (EXCLUSIVE)

    New York’s PlayStation Theater, a 2,100-capacity venue located in Times Square and operated by Bowery Presents, will close at the end of 2019, a source close to the situation tells Variety. The venue will close with a New Year’s series of shows from the Disco Biscuits. The theater, which is located two stories beneath the [...]

  • Jonas Leijonhufvud and Sven Carlsson

    Yellow Bird U.K. Developing 'Spotify Untold' Limited Series

    Yellow Bird U.K. has optioned the screen rights to tell-all book “Spotify Untold” with plans to develop it into a limited series for television. Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud’s novel details the story behind the Swedish start-up which became one of the world’s leading music services and its attempts to take on U.S. giants including [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content