Dr. Ysaÿe Barnwell On Adding African-American Tradition To The National Anthem

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Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell (Courtesy Ysaye Barwell)
Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell (Courtesy Ysaye Barwell)

Dr. Ysaÿe Barnwell's version of the Star-Spangled Banner is unlike any version you've heard before. Barnwell is a former member of the ensemble Sweet Honey in the Roc" and now a master teacher and choral clinician.

After actor Harry Belafonte asked her to do a "black version of the national anthem," she came up with this energetic interpretation, including the line, "O'er the land of the free, and the home of the slave..."

She joins us to talk about the arrangement and why it's important now.


Ysaÿe Barnwell, composer, musician, producer, actress and former member of Sweet Honey in The Rock. She's composed an African-American version of the Star-Spangled Banner. She tweets @ymbarnwell.

This segment aired on October 10, 2017.

Alison Bruzek Associate Producer, Radio Boston
Alison Bruzek was a producer for Radio Boston.


Anthony Brooks Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.



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