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“God Bless The U.S.A.” Lee Greenwood’s Patriotic Song Once Again Unites America

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Music has always been a part of Lee Greenwood’s life. He started playing the piano when he was seven and the saxophone at 12. In junior high, he started his first group called the Moonbeams. His sister Patricia was the piano player in the band. By the time, he finished high school he played most all the instruments in the orchestra and was the drum major for the marching band.

Growing up in the city Los Angeles and on the farm in Sacramento, which local country artists inspired you to pursue a career in music?

There was no local artists that inspired me. I was inspired by the national artists from Nashville to New York City. To name a few Bobby Darin, Peabo Bryson, Sam Cooke and groups such as Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power.

And the first country album I got was Ray Charles’ ‘Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music.’

Post high school, you first performed at the Golden Hotel & Casino in Reno, Nevada. Did you write the songs your band the Apollos played?

No, we sang everything from what was considered pop music at the time to excerpts from Broadway.

Saw you passed on a professional baseball career out of high school. What do you think of the proposals being made for a possible 2020 MLB season?

It will be interesting to see if there is even an audience, a crowd in the stadium. However, baseball continues to set the bar for salary.

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Mel Tillis’ bass player and bandleader Larry McFadden brought you to Nashville after twenty years in Vegas. Did he also introduce you to producer Jerry Crutchfield?

No. I took the initiative to call Jerry without an introduction and asked him to audition me. So, he flew to Las Vegas and we met and became friends. We then began our artist/producer career on a handshake.

Working with Jerry over the years, what is the best advice he gave you in choosing songs?

We chose songs together based upon depth of the lyrics, true to country music and honesty of the story. Lastly, if it sent chills down your spine, then it would do the same for the public.

Your signature song “God Bless The U.S.A.” was written in response to a Korean Air Lines flight that was shot down over Russia by a USSR jet fighter in 1983 and your desire to see a more united America.

The song is included in The Game Curriculum’s homeschooling unit on Patriotism.

As schools are closed across the nation due to the coronavirus pandemic and homeschooling the norm, how does it feel seeing your song once again uniting our country during another major historical event?

(Wasn’t just about the Korean airliner, it brought attention that the world was getting smaller.)

It wasn’t a response, it was a passion since I was a child. I am pleased beyond any thought that my song “God Bless The U.S.A.” can be used as a tool to not just unite the country, but to do what I intended and to give spirit and hope to the next generation who have been affected by this current pandemic.

As the pandemic continues to keep Americans under stay-at-home orders, which patriotic songs from your childhood would you include on a playlist to keep our country united against this invisible enemy?

My album ‘American Patriot’ that was released in 1992 is a perfect example. I named it ‘American Patriot’ because I thought it would best represent the history of our country.

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You have an online concert scheduled for Memorial Day on Facebook Live. Will you have any special guests joining you?

No.

How do you see the music industry evolving once the pandemic ends?

I truly believe the public has a short memory and the current fear over the COVID-19 pandemic will be swiftly compared to the flu, that has been considered one of the worst things you could get as a virus over the years.

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Music heals. What message do you have for fans as they continue to navigate through difficult days, moving to the new normal in America?

The United States is different than any other country, but I truly believe we continue to follow the model from around the world since this is a global pandemic. As cities, counties and states begin to ease social distancing, entertainment is the thing people will want the most. So, before 2021 I truly believe we will be back on the road with our concerts and probably have more Christmas shows on our schedule than in years past. Our new normal will be the same as it’s always been, living free in America.

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