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Kate Smith

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Kathryn Elizabeth Smith (May 1, 1907 – June 17, 1986) was a Washington, D.C.-born singer best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”. She was one of America’s most beloved entertainers, with a radio, TV and recording career that spanned five decades, and which reached its most-remembered zenith in the 1940s.

Her musical career began in earnest when she was discovered in 1930 by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her longtime partner and manager and who put her on the radio in 1931. She sang the controversial top twenty song of 1931, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”. She starred in the 1932 movie Hello Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott and Sally Blane, and in 1943 she sang “God Bless America” in the wartime picture This is the Army. Irving Berlin had written the song in 1938 for her, and it is considered “the second National Anthem” of the United States. Its popularity and constant airplay led Woody Guthrie to pen the original version of “This Land Is Your Land” in protest at the Berlin tune’s unquestioning complacency.

Kate began making records in 1926; among her biggest hits were “River, Stay ‘Way From My Door” (1931), “The Woodpecker Song” (1940), “The White Cliffs of Dover” (1941), “Rose O’Day” (1941), “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” (1942), “There Goes That Song Again” (1944), “Seems Like Old Times” (1946), and “Now Is the Hour” (1947). Her theme song was “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain”, the lyrics of which she helped write. She greeted audiences with “Hello, everybody!” and signed off with “Thanks for listenin’.”

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