NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — After the Yankees suspended the use of Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch over allegations of racism, the late singer’s family are speaking out.
“She loved everybody,” said Suzie Andron, Smith’s niece. “Aunt Katheryn was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She was certainly anything but a prejudice person, she loved everybody.”
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” it read. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
Smith died in 1986. The Yankees have used her recording of “God Bless America” and sometimes live singers during the seventh inning since the 2001 terrorist attacks. They used an organ version Wednesday and Thursday.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.” The song originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals,” and was considered satire. It was recorded by Smith and also by Paul Robeson, who was black.
In response to the news, the Philadelphia Flyers covered a statue of Smith outside their arena. Flyers officials said Friday they also plan to remove Smith’s “God Bless America” recording from their library.
They say several other songs performed by Smith “contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization.”
Smith’s connection with the Flyers started in 1969 when a team executive ordered her version of “God Bless America” to be played instead of “The Star Spangled Banner.” That led to her performing the song several times before games in the 1970s.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)