When Tenors Go Rogue

The 2016 All-Star Game at Petco Park in San Diego opened with controversy as a performer changed the lyrics of the Canadian National Anthem to address political issues.

Photo: Gregory Bull/AP, file
Shown on the scoreboard, performing prior to the MLB baseball All-Star Game, in San Diego.

Remigio Pereira of the choral quartet The Tenors changed the lyrics of the “O Canada” verse “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 holding a sign that read “All Lives Matter” on one side and “United We Stand” on the back.

The Tenors issued a statement distancing the group from Pereira’s actions soon after, saying he acted as a lone wolf and none of the other members knew his plans.

“The actions of one member of this group were extremely selfish and he will not be performing with The Tenors until further notice,” the statement read.

During the performance, the other group members are visibly surprised when Pereira sings the altered lyrics.

Social media swiftly erupted in outrage in response to the singer’s actions. As one Twitter user, Greg Balloch, succinctly explained: “Changing the lyrics of ‘O Canada’ to support ‘All Lives Matter’ is an incredibly efficient and effective way to piss off literally everyone.”

Indeed, not only did many express frustration that Pereira chose to state “All Lives Matter,” which many activists view as de-valuing the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but he also received little support from the traditionally conservative groups who are usually more apt to use the phrase he displayed. 

For his part, Pereira explained that his intention was to bring people together. “I speak for the human race and the lives of all sentient beings. Love, peace and harmony for ALL has always been my life’s purpose,” he wrote. “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.”

Fan videos show that the added lines did garner applause from the audience, which is hard to tell from MLB and broadcast footage.

This is not the first time this year the Canadian anthem has been the subject of internet discussion. Nelly Furtado’s performance at the NBA’s 2016 All-Star game, which featured a synthesizer, flute, and the singer’s vocals, and was criticized and praised.