President Biden Quotes From “American Anthem,” His “Favorite Song,” in Inaugural Address

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Written by Gene Scheer, the song was first performed by Denyce Graves in 1998

Joe Biden
President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 2021 (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered his inaugural address today after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Near the end of his speech, President Biden quoted lyrics from the Gene Scheer composition “American Anthem,” which he called his “favorite song:”

What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?
Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
America
America
I gave my best to you

Written by Scheer in 1998, “American Anthem” was first performed by Denyce Graves that year at the Smithsonian Institution during an event to launch Bill and Hillary Clinton’s “Save America’s Treasures” initiative. Graves performed the song again for George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005. Later, Norah Jones further popularized “American Anthem” by covering it for Ken Burns’ WWII documentary series The War.

Earlier in the inauguration ceremony, Lady Gaga performed the National Anthem while Jennifer Lopez came out to sing a medley of “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”

 

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