'Ask yourself why you're so angry': Why Canadian singer Jully Black changed 'O Canada' — and would do even more
'I think the whole thing needs to be looked at. From beginning to end,' the singer says about the age-old anthem
Canadian R&B singer Jully Black's alteration of the Canadian national anthem at the NBA All-Star game has sparked debate from both sides of the spectrum over the last week.
Instead of "Our home and native land," the singer opted for "Our home on native land," a subtle but powerful move that honoured Canada's Indigenous Peoples.
"It always felt strange saying 'Our', it felt like I was in some sort of ownership. It just didn't feel right," the Jamaican-Canadian artist told Yahoo News Canada.
After consulting some of her Indigenous loved ones and practising her rendition on the court, the singer knew the lyric swap was necessary.
Aside from the Super Bowl, this is the largest global sporting event that includes the Canadian anthem. So for me, I was like, what better way to move the dial and stand with the Indigenous community.Jully Black, Canadian R&B singer
Black said she doesn't want to dishonour the anthem, but the current version is a dishonour to the progress we've made as a country in recognizing Indigenous Peoples.
"There can be no reconciliation without truth. They tie the two words together, truth and reconciliation," she added.
The lyric swap evoked intense reactions online. Many felt it was about time for an inclusive change.
Love that @JullyBlack sang the Canadian national anthem at the NBA All Star Game and sang - *on* Native Land instead of -*and*
I. AM. HERE. FOR. ALL. OF. THISSSS
— Stacy-Ann Buchanan | Mental Health Advocate (@stacynbuchanan) February 20, 2023
@JullyBlack understood the assignment. She represented the language in which we should be speaking. This is walking in truth. This is allyship. The lands we have come to know as Canada, although many of us call it home, it is ON NATIVE LAND. #Landback #Canada #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/qgcHV2dGRp
— Amie Archibald-Varley (@AmieVarley) February 20, 2023
Some felt offended, claiming the rendition to be "disrespectful."
You want to open a discussion about a change to the national anthem, then do so in a proper way. But to go on a national stage and decide to change the words on your own, is outright disrespectful and Jully Black should not be applauded for what she did
— Obie Azizy (@Obie_Azizy) February 20, 2023
Jully Black used our Anthem #NBA #Raptors #Leafs as a toy to be played with by changing a word to suit her virtue-signalling, narcissistic beliefs. Her disrespectful publicity stunt was tantamount to a slap in the face to Canadians, such as myself, who are native to this land.
— Terry Griffiths (@T_M_Griffiths) February 23, 2023
Criticism for Black has been abound - she's even received disturbing emails from fellow Canadians claiming they were disgusted by her tweak. Black has a few through-provoking questions for the critics.
Ask yourself why you're so angry? Could it be that you are sitting in guilt? Could it be that you are so set in your ways and that you potentially have, you know, fear around equality? Could you feel that you are actually the superior race? Ask yourself why.Jully Black, Canadian R&B singer
The Juno award-winning performer says that every artist is an activist but that it doesn't take an activist "to realize that there's something in the atmosphere saying, change needs to happen now."
In 2018, another of Canada's national anthem lyrics was changed from "In all thy sons command" to "In all of us command" to make it gender-neutral. Black says there are more edits to be made.
"For me, I realized that they went a little too far into the anthem without going through each line to see what needed to be changed first," she told Yahoo News Canada. "So, I wouldn't say that only one word should be changed. I think the whole thing needs to be looked at. From beginning to end."