By Bonnie K. Goodman
Music group The Tenors politicized the Canadian anthem, O Canada during the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star game on Tuesday evening, July 12, 2016, at Petco Park in San Diego, California. The group hailing from British Columbia interjected the words “all lives matter” in the anthem. The anthem was not televised on American television only Canadian, but still managed to cause an uproar on social media.
The Tenors changed the lyrics from “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.” While member Remigio Pereira held a sign reading, “all lives matter,” while the back of the sign said “United We Stand.” The audio was not very clear but still caused an outrage. Fox that carried the All-Star Game was on commercial break when the Tenors sang the Canadian anthem.
The Juno award winning Tenors are composed of four members, Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, Remigio Pereira and Victor Micallef. The group is popular in Canada with their albums going multi-platinum. Despite their former esteem, Canadians were upset by the group’s decision to politicize the Canadian anthem during a sporting event.
The statement “All Lives Matter” is politically charged and is often mistakenly used as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, much to the chagrin of Black Lives Matter supporters. The phrase has gained traction recently but has a resurgence after police shot and killed African Americans Alton Sterling and Philando last week and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests.
The group denounces the statement believing it undercuts the Black Lives Matter movement which emphasizes that black lives are in peril from police, and more likely to be cut short in the United States as a result of inherent and rampant racism. Using the phrase “All Lives Matter” in response shows a misunderstanding of racism. Race Theory scholar David Theo Goldberg says, “All Lives Matter is a “racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial.”
Despite not being televised in the U.S., there was an outrage all over social media for the change in lyrics. Canadians taking to Twitter called the rendition “very disrespectful,” “wrong,” “dishonoring the anthem.” The group also received numerous “angry messages” and posts on their Facebook page. Both on Twitter and Facebook fans were calling for a Canadian boycott of the group. Major League Baseball was equally blindsided by the politically motivated lyric change, with Spokesman Matt Bourne commenting they “had no idea.”
Hoping to quell the anger, the Tenors issued an apology statement on social media. The group pinned the whole fiasco on member Pereira calling him a “lone wolf” who decided to change the lyrics and hold up the sign without the knowledge or approval from the rest of the group.
The Tenors called Pereira’s actions “disrespectful, and misguided lack of judgment” and “the other members of the group are shocked and embarrassed” by Pereira’s “actions “to serve his own political views.” The tenors also suspended Pereira from the group “until further notice.”
The complete statement reads as follows:
The Tenors are deeply sorry for the disrespectful and misguided lack of judgment by one member of the group acting as a ‘lone wolf’ today during the singing of the Canadian national anthem at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego.
The other members of the group are shocked and embarrassed by the actions of Remigio Pereira, who changed the lyrics of our treasured anthem and used this coveted platform to serve his own political views.
Our sincere apologies and regrets go out to everybody who witnessed this shameful act, to our fellow Canadians, to Major League Baseball, to our friends, families, fans and to all those affected.
The actions of one member of this group were extremely selfish and he will not be performing with The Tenors until further notice.
Afterward, Pereira attempted to explain his motivations in a series of tweets on Twitter but stopped short of apologizing for his actions. Pereira said, “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.”
Continuing in a different direction with his message, Pereira wrote, “from the bottom and all corners of my heart, be good to one another, love one another. Let us all live in peace, it is everyone’s birthright.” Pereira’s explanation shows he did not have a grasp on the negative connotations from the “all lives matter” statement.