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Singer Alters Canadian Anthem To Say 'All Lives Matter' At All-Star Game

The Tenors, shown on the scoreboard, perform the Canadian national anthem prior to the MLB baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday.
Gregory Bull
The Tenors, shown on the scoreboard, perform the Canadian national anthem prior to the MLB baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

Instead of singing, "With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free," Remigio Pereira sang, "We're all brothers and sisters. All lives matter to the great."

Pereira also held up an "All Lives Matter" sign.

The other three singers, who say they weren't aware of Pereira's plans, weren't singing any words at the time. In video of the moment, you can see one of them turn and stare at Pereira before turning back to face forward.

Major League Baseball says it was also unaware of Pereira's intention to change the song.

The revision has been controversial for several reasons. The phrase "all lives matter" is often used by opponents and critics of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"It has been perceived to use reductive reasoning to trivialize the problems specifically facing black people," the CBC notes.

The change to the song has also been sharply criticized by those who say it is highly inappropriate to politicize a national anthem — or, indeed, to change it at all.

In a statement posted on Twitter, The Tenors wrote that Pereira's actions were "disrespectful" and "shameful," and said he would not be performing with them until further notice.

Pereira took to Twitter to defend his lyrical decision.

"I've been so moved lately by the tragic loss of life and I hoped for a positive statement that would bring us ALL together. ONE LOVE," he wrote on Twitter.

"That was my singular motivation when I said all lives matter," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.